Here’s some information.
The Independent (London)September 16, 2000, Saturday
‘THE FEW’ WHO SAVED BRITAIN WERE EVEN FEWER IN NUMBER THAN ANYONE IMAGINED
BYLINE: Paul Lashmar
“THE FEW” who knocked the Luftwaffe out of Britain’s skies in 1940 were even fewer than anyone previously realised. Six out of 10 RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain never shot down an enemy aircraft, new research suggests.
Christopher Shores, the author of Aces High, says a relatively small number of pilots was responsible for most of the German aircraft shot down during Britain’s “finest hour” and that the top 17 RAF “aces” – less then 1 per cent of “the Few” – shot down 10 per cent of all enemy aircraft.
The RAF pilots, whose victory forced Hitler to abandon his invasion plans, became known as “the Few” after Churchill’s speech in which he said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
The Battle of Britain was fought between 10 July and 31 October 1940. RAF pilots claimed to have shot down about 2,600 German aircraft, but figures compiled later suggest that Luftwaffe losses were more likely nearer 1,700.
Of the 2,332 Allied pilots who flew fighters in the battle, 38.85 per cent could claim some success in terms of enemy aircraft shot down, but the number claiming more than one victim amounted to no more than 15 per cent of the total.
To qualify for the description of “ace”, a fighter pilot has to shoot down or be involved with others in shooting down at least five hostile aircraft. During the Battle of Britain just 188 pilots achieved that performance – 8 per cent of the total involved. A further 233 of those claiming successes during the battle became “aces” later in the war.
Mr Shores says: “It is particularly illuminating that the 17 most successful pilots (0.7 per cent of those involved) claimed 220 victories between them (8 -9 per cent of the total claimed), a quite disproportionately high level of achievement.”
The 188 “ace” pilots claimed approximately half of all the victories. The most successful were Sgt Josef Frantisek (from Czechoslovakia) 17; Pilot Officer Eric Lock (England) 16; Flying Officer Brian Carbury (New Zealand) and Sgt James ‘Ginger’ Lacey (England) 15 and 1 shared each; Pilot Officer Bob Doe (England) 15; Flt Lt Pat Hughes (Australia) 14 and 3 shared; Pilot Officer Colin Gray (New Zealand) 14 and 2 shared; Flt Lt Archie McKellar(Scotland) 14 and 1 shared; Flying Officer Witold Urbanowicz (Poland) 14. Eight others claimed 10 or 11 individual victories, with varying numbers of shares.
These included the well-known Flt Lt Bob Stanford-Tuck and Flt Sgt George “Grumpy” Unwin (both of whom were English).
The findings complement research published in Aeroplane magazine that examined which were the most effective RAF squadrons during the Battle of Britain. The most prolific were: 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron – a Spitfire squadron based at Hornchurch, Essex – which shot down 57.5 enemy aircraft; 609 Squadron, another Spitfire squadron, based at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, with 51.5 kills; and the Polish -manned 303 Squadron and 41 Squadron, which were close to being equal with 45 and 44.75 credits. Douglas Bader’s 242 Hurricane Squadron achieved 22 kills.
A recent television programme debunked the widely held belief that nearly all the fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain were ex-public schoolboys from an upper-class background. Of the 3,080 airmen awarded the Battle of Britain Clasp, only 141 (6 per cent) were educated at the top 13 public schools, the largest contingent having attended Eton: 22 pilots (0.9 per cent).
Aces High, Christopher Shores’ account of the battle is published by Grub Street.
There is a nice reference by Robin Ramsay to our book in the latest edition of the online parapolitical magazine Lobster. He as discussing the BBC website story ”revealing’ that the Treasury had subsidised a British covert propaganda news agency in the middle east in the 1960s.
“Regional News Service (Middle East) rang a very faint bell, so I went back to
Paul Lashmar and James Oliver’s 1998 book about IRD, Britain’s Secret
Propaganda War 1948-77, and there it was. In so doing, I was reminded
what a wonderful book that is – and still available from Amazon and
To read Ramsay’s full item Lobster April 2020
Excellent article from the intrepid Ian Cobain at MEE.
Ian has been digging into the tranche of documents from the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department released into the National Archives.
Back in 1989 it got into severe quality production problems with the 747-400. Here’s an investigation I did in Seattle (Boeing’s base)
David Leigh and I broke this story in 1982 about the Prime Minister’s son acting as a middle man in Oman. This story is so interesting that the official UK public records have been withheld until 2053.
The backstory of how the Sultan overthrew his father in 1979 is an interesting one. He was helped by Sandhurst chum Brigadier Timothy Landon who was the connection with the Foreign Office. Landon went on to be the Sultan’s fixer and when he died a few years back had a huge home counties estate and left £200m. Not bad for a Brigadier.
IT’S THE secret back door to London through which illegal immigrants enter Britain. Far from the well-known entry ports such as Dover, about 200 a week arrive on ferries at Purfleet, just 10 miles down the Thames from Tower Bridge.
On the Calais-Dover route last week, cars as well as lorries began to be searched by security guards employed by P&O Stena. So far, 70 illegal immigrants have been found. Under new legislation, both car and lorry drivers and ferry companies face large fines for smuggling illegal immigrants.
But at Purfleet, five large ferries from Zeebrugge in Belgium dock every day. They are supposed to be freight-only, but many carry an illegal cargo of refugees.
Few people outside the freight industry even know that there is a ferry terminal at Purfleet. But refugee-smuggling gangs operating from the continent certainly do.
Unlike the Calais-Dover route, Purfleet terminal has no full-time government security regime, no immigration officers, no police officers on site, and no detection equipment of the type being used by P&O on every lorry using its ferries.
One worker at the terminal told the Independent on Sunday: “The illegals wait until the containers and trailers are unloaded into the warehouse. Then they get out. Each day you can see them. They’re of every nationality. Some are stopped by the terminal security company but most just walk out. Up the road and turn left and hop on the train at Purfleet station, up to Liverpool Street and then disappear.”
The staff member added: “Security call the police. Sometimes the police are too busy and don’t bother coming down. Other times they (the illegals) are just given a note telling them how to go to the Home Office in Croydon. Occasionally, the police take them away.”
Another worker at the terminal: “There is no doubt that this route is being used by organised smuggling. Recently, we had about 20 chaps get out of a container. I would say they were from Pakistan. Each was smartly dressed in suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. Out they got and marched off together to the railway station.”
Most local residents confirm the constant stream of refugees flowing past their front doors. Most are reluctant to be identified, but Bulent Selen, an immigration adviser who has lived in Purfleet for 40 years, said the local estimate was that 200 refugees a week walk out of the terminal.
“It’s an open door and it’s still happening, every day. I saw an Arab- looking man walk by this morning on his way to the station. There are people from Eastern Europe, China and Pakistan, from everywhere. Sometimes there are 10, sometimes 15, sometimes groups of 20 people. They are very well organised. Some are picked up by minibuses outside the gates. Some have the phone numbers of cab companies in Grays and they order a taxi.
“I heard of case where a taxi firm charged each refugee $ 100 to take them into London. On one occasion I saw five Chinese men being chased by a police car. One was so desperate to escape he ran right in the path of an articulated lorry and was nearly killed. Three got away.”
One resident said the numbers were probably greater than those seen leaving the terminal. “There is no doubt round here that some refugees stay in the trailers until they are driven off. You hear about people seen jumping out of the back of lorries on the A13.”
A spokeswoman for Essex Police agreed that refugees using the terminal had been increasing. “There has been an awful lot especially since the end of the summer,” she said. “We are phoned by the security guards who detain them. They are then taken to Grays police station who notify immigration officers in Ipswich, who then pick them up. If there are children involved we call social services.”
Official confusion reigns over what to do with the illegals and the extent of the problem. A spokeswoman for the Immigration Service said it had no immigration officers at the terminal because it was freight-only. “We do have some security guards. They tell the refugees to go to our office in Croydon,” she added.
The spokeswoman said the Home Office believed the vast majority did make their own way to Croydon. “It’s in their interest to do so. Otherwise they cannot claim asylum.”
The Home Office said it had recorded 298 refugees arriving at Purfleet in the last 11 months of 1999: “That dropped to 93 in January and was down to 20 in November.” Asked about Essex Police’s claim that the number had recently increased, and local workers’ and residents’ contention that 200 a week were seen walking out of the depot, its spokeswoman said: “I’ll have to get back to you.” Twenty minutes later, she rang back: “All we would be prepared to say is we are grateful for the information. Any claims of people-trafficking will be investigated.”
The Purfleet ferry terminal is owned and run by Cobelfret Ferries of Zeebrugge, a family-run company. It declined to comment.
Marshwood Vale Magazine is the excellent magazine that serves the border of Dorset, Devon and Somerset. Every month they feature a commissioned photo of a local person on the cover and accompanied by a take on their life story. This month I have the privilege.
Thanks to Fergus and Victoria Byrne the editors and to Robin Mills the photographer and writer. Read the full article.
This is great summary of the day’s events and it went far better than I, as one of the originators, would have dreamed. Roll on next year’s.