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What became of ‘The Few’ after the Battle of Britain?

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To the grateful population of post-war Britain those pilots who had fought against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain were true heroes. They were lauded in the media of the day and became the subjects of many a film. England's Prime Minister Winston Churchill was even quoted as saying, ‘never was so much owed by so many to so few.’

However, as Alexandra Kent, daughter of RAF Group Captain Johnny Kent, reveals in the new edition of One of the Few, her father and his contemporaries often had trouble coping with normal life:

‘This surreal situation must have been made all the more dreamlike by the way in which the fighter pilots, particularly the Poles, gained the status of national celebrities who were adopted like mascots by prominent socialite women. The men were spinning between London nightlife and the nerve-snapping toil of air combat. During my visits to the Polish Institute I heard many an anecdote of how on morning sorties the pilots sometimes still had so much alcohol in them from the night before that the ground crew had to pour them into the cockpits and try to sober them up with oxygen before letting them take off to fight. Although she cant recall whether it was our father or our mother’s tale, my sister remembers a story of how alcohol supposedly came to play a role in enabling our father to overcome the paralysing fear of breakdown: He described landing after a particularly harrowing sortie and not being able to move his legs. Remembering that they always carried a flask, he took a slug and was then able to function.’

Extracted from One of the Few

The Few – 20 Years Later

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