Dilip’s 50th Book Event – Battle of Britain Bunker, 16 October 2022


This unique and long-awaited event, in support of and at The Battle of Britain Bunker, Uxbridge, is to celebrate a lifetime of dedication and commitment to recording and sharing history, which has culminated in the publication of over fifty books by the author and historian Dilip Sarkar – who has been fascinated by the Battle of Britain and Spitfire stories since childhood. Having enjoyed a close personal relationship with many of The Few, his interest is driven by the human experience of war, and especially sharing the deeply moving stories of casualties.

Master of Ceremonies introducing Dilip Sarkar is the author’s old friend Squadron Leader John Peters, the former Gulf War POW and co-author of the globally best-selling memoir Tornado Down. John has contributed the foreword to Dilip’s Spitfire Down, and is a Trustee of the RAF Club.


Session 1: Meet the Author!

Squadron Leader John Peters introduces the day and Dilip Sarkar, the pair discussing inspiration – John’s to become a fighter pilot, Dilip to write about fighter pilots – motivation, and exactly what drives someone with a stressful full-time job to research, write and publish over 50 books!

Tickets herehttp://www.hillingdontheatres.uk/index.php/events/john-peters-q-and-a/

Session 2: Spitfire Down!

In Dilip’s new book Spitfire Down we explore the stories of fourteen pilots who failed to return, all killed, either in action or flying accidents, whilst one, Flying Officer Buck Casson, was brought down by a German ace over France and captured. Here we have, for example, the virtually unknown story of ‘The Baby of the RAF’, Sergeant Geoffrey Painting, the youngest RAF pilot to die during the Second World War, reported missing off the French coast in 1941, aged 17. The heart-rending story of the American trainee fighter pilot, Pilot Officer ‘Jim Bob’ Lee, whose Spitfire collided with a Wellington bomber over Gloucestershire – resulting in the loss of all airmen involved. Two Canadian pilots perished on Pen-y-Fan, the highest peak in South Wales. The multi-national effort that defeated Hitler is further emphasised, in fact, through the stories of both Wing Commander Piotr Laguna and Flying Officer Franek Surma, but perhaps most tragic of all is how lightning struck Joan Welch twice: her first fiancée, Flight Lieutenant Lester Sanders DFC, was killed test-flying Spitfires in 1942, and her second, Pilot Officer Ian Smith, was killed in Palestine in 1945. In this uniquely illustrated presentation, Dilip will highlight certain of these powerful stories.

Tickets herehttp://www.hillingdontheatres.uk/index.php/events/spitfire-down

Session 3: Forgotten Heroes of the Battle of Britain

Published alongside Spitfire Down!, Forgotten Heroes of the Battle of Britain tells the detailed stories of a number of exceptional airmen who defended Britain in 1940 – but whose stories are less-well-known than perhaps they should be. Researched with the full cooperation of the families concerned, the book, for example features Wing Commander Ronald Kellett, whose medals and other memorabilia are displayed and preserved at The Battle of Britain Bunker, who led the legendary Polish 303 Squadron during that epic summer. Group Captain Tom Gleave also features, who was terribly burned and became a founder member of the exalted ‘Guinea Pig Club’ – membership of which comprises airmen treated by the pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe. Wing Commander ‘Billy’ Burton’s story is told in full for the first time, a Cranwell Sword of Honour winner of enormous potential, sadly reported missing in 1943. Wing Commander Eric Thomas was amongst the first ever Spitfire pilots and another fighter ace, who sadly died prematurely post-war, who at last receives recognition in this long-awaited book. Dilip also looks closely at a Defiant crew, Pilot Officer Howley and Sergeant Curley, lost during the infamous ‘Slaughter of the Innocents’, and explores the story of Sergeant Bruce Hancock – whose name will not be found amongst the fabled Few but who also gave his life defending Britain during the fateful summer of 1940. Sharing unique photographs from family archives, Dilip introduces us to these epic stories with his usual passion.

Tickets herehttp://www.hillingdontheatres.uk/index.php/events/forgotten-heroes-of-the-battle-of-britain/

More information on The Battle of Britain Bunker herehttp://battleofbritainbunker.co.uk

The Bunker has superb lecture facilities, parking, a cafe, and will also be hosting guided tours of Air Vice-Marshal Park’s famous 11 Group underground Operations Room.

All of Dilip’s many Pen & Sword titles will be available on the day – signed copies for Christmas!

Publication details: https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Dilip-Sarkar-MBE/a/3288