'DESERVES TO JOIN REACH FOR THE SKY AND THE LAST ENEMY AS ONE OF THE GREAT RAF BOOKS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR' - ANDREW ROBERTS
As I write, I can clearly recall the stinging heat of aburning Blenheim, smells, tastes, expressions, sounds of voices and, most ofall, fear gripping deep in me.
Flying Officer Alastair Panton was just twenty-three when his squadron deployed across the Channel in the defence of France. They were desparate days.
Pushed back to the beaches as the German blitzkrieg rolled through the Low Countries and into France, by June 4th 1940 the evacuation ofthe Allies from Dunkirk was complete. A little over two weeks later France surrendered.
Flying vital, dangerous, low-level missions throughout the campaign in support of the troops on the ground, Panton's beloved but unarmed Bristol Blenheim was easy meat for the marauding Messerschmitts. At the height of fighting he was losing two of his small squadron's crews to the enemy every day.
Discovered in a box by his grandchildren after his death in 2002, Alastair Panton's Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer is a lostclassic. One of the most moving, vivid and powerful accounts of war inthe air ever written. And an unforgettable testament to the courage, stoicism, camaraderie and humanity of Britain's greatest generation.
'ONE CAN'T HELP FEELING AWE AND REVERENCE. THERE ARE ENOUGH ADVENTURES HERE FOR A LIFETIME'
LOUIS DE BERNIERES
'SIMPLY WONDERFUL. ONE OF THE BEST ACCOUNTS OF WWII I HAVE EVER READ'
Air Commodore Alastair Panton served in the Royal Air Force for thirty-five years. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Gallantry in 1940 and also received an OBE in 1950 and a CB in 1969. He ended his military service as Provost Marshal and Head of RAF Security. After his retirement, he became Steward of Penrhyn Castle in Wales and then ran a second-hand bookshop in North Yorkshire. Panton died in December 2002.