With Wings Like Eagles by Michael Korda

With Wings Like Eagles was first published in 2009 and it’s a history of the Battle of Britain. I’m not a stranger to reading history but I haven’t read much about World War 2. It was Sandy McLendon a commentor on ‘Pining’ who recommended this book, and I’m glad she did as it’s very interesting and is so readable, and very far from being a dry and dusty history. Luckily I was able to borrow it from my library.

I didn’t know a lot about the details of the Battle of Britain or the men involved in the decision making so it was all new to me. As is my wont I was reading out what I found to be interesting snippets of it to Jack, such as the fact that one cabinet member, Sir Howard Kingsley Wood, pointed out that a German company which was mooted as a possible bomb target was private property meaning it shouldn’t be bombed! but Jack has read a lot about the subject and so I gave up on that as annoyingly he was finishing off what I was reading out to him before I could! I think that even he would find some new details in this history though.

One thing which we have all always known is that history is written by the winners and of course Winston Churchill wrote his well known Second World War series which is mainly why he received a Nobel prize for Literature in 1953. According to With Wings Like Eagles Churchill did a fair bit of rewriting of history to put himself in a better light during this period of the war, when he was less than supportive of Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding, whose plans and decisions led to us winning the Battle of Britain and consequently the war.

This book points out that it wasn’t only the air crews who were heroes there were also merchant seamen on tankers (my father being one of them) and the young women of the WAAF who continued to call in radar positions whilst bombs rained down all around them.

The RAF was riddled with jealousy and spite amongst those near the top, so much so that when the official history of the Battle of Britain was published, of which 6 million copies were sold, Dowding didn’t even get a mention. That led Churchill to complain that: the jealousies and cliquism which have led to the committing of this offence are a discredit to the Air Ministry.

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