Hazel Grove au­thor is fly­ing the flag for the RAF

Stockport Times West - - FRONT PAGE - Nick Statham

AN au­thor who spe­cialises in mil­i­tary his­tory has pub­lished a new book to mark the 75th an­niver­sary of the Battle of Bri­tain.

A His­tory of the Battle of Bri­tain Fighter As­so­ci­a­tion, by Hazel Grove writer Ge­off Simp­son, fo­cuses on the or­gan­i­sa­tion set up to pro­vide wel­fare to vet­er­ans and wid­ows af­ter the Sec­ond World War.

The as­so­ci­a­tion was formed in 1958 by air­men awarded the 1939-45 Star with a Battle of Bri­tain clasp for their hero­ics dur­ing the cam­paign from July to Septem­ber 1940.

There are now only around 30 mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion still alive.

Its work also in­cludes re­unions, re­search­ing en­ti­tle­ment to the clasp and play­ing an im­por­tant role in the Battle of Bri­tain ser­vice at West­min­ster Abbey ev­ery Septem­ber.

Ge­off’s his­tory of the as­so­ci­a­tion is the lat­est of sev­eral books and book­lets he has writ­ten on the RAF, in­clud­ing a Dic­tio­nary of the Battle of Bri­tain and A Dic­tio­nary of Bomber Com­mand.

The 68-year-old writer was in­vited by the as­so­ci­a­tion to use its ar­chives and they form the ba­sis of his book which con­tains many pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished ac­counts and pho­to­graphs.

He said: “The book is a his­tory of the Fighter As­so­ci­a­tion and a com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Battle of Bri­tain but it also in­cludes the na­tional me­mo­rial in Kent and the his­tory of the Battle of Bri­tain clasp.

“It cov­ers the in­for­mal meet­ings of Al­lied air­men af­ter the end of the war, the start­ing up of the as­so­ci­a­tion in 1958 and what’s hap­pened to it since.

“The main thing is they meet ev­ery Septem­ber 15 which is recog­nised as Battle of Bri­tain Day as it marks the an­niver­sary of the ma­jor day of fight­ing.

“Mem­bers hold a re­u­nion at the RAF chapel in West­min­ster Abbey to pay trib­ute to Lord Dowd­ing, who led the fighter com­mand at the Battle of Bri­tain.

“It’s about meet­ing up to re­mem­ber what was achieved.

“It was dif­fi­cult to do any­thing in the Sec­ond World War with­out aerial su­pe­ri­or­ity and the Ger­man air­force was tasked with stop­ping RAF fighter com­mand’s abil­ity to in­ter­vene.

“They didn’t man­age to do that, and that’s how the Battle of Bri­tain was won.”

Ge­off is also a trustee of the Battle of Bri­tain Me­mo­rial Trust.

A Hur­ri­cane LF363 and Spit­fire P7350 (main pic­ture) and (inset) the new book cover

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