Battle Of Britain Voices Jonathan Reeve

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

BATTLE OF BRITAIN VOICES - Jonathan Reeve

Date: 23rd January 2016

I have just been sent a present by the Mouchotte family - Battle of Britain Voices by Jonathan Reeve. Jonathan Reeve must have put an enormous amount of research and 'sifting' to have compiled this book of over 400 pages.

The front cover tells us that '37 Fighter Pilots tell their Extraodinary Stories. I'm delighted to say that the only person with two entries is Commandant/Squadron Leader René Mouchotte. Mr. Reeve has taken two excerpts from the Mouchotte Diaries - the first appears in Part 1 - Prelude, The Battle of Britain and the second in Part 4 - the End of the Battle. I know one shouldn't count the pages but I did and the first excerpt is the longest in the whole book. René wrote very well indeed - had he lived and not continued a flying career, I maintain that he could have either written for a living or been an artist of some description - the little sketches he drew in his diaries are extremely good.

I've read the Mouchotte Diaries 7 times and reading these excerpts has prompted me to read the Diaries again. It is unfortunate that the Diaries in English are no longer readily available having been published in 1956. However René's nephew in law Col. Hubert de Lisle has been valiantly attempting to get the updated and unexpurgated version published in English. It was released in French in 2000 and I am the lucky recipient of a copy given to me by Rene's sister Jacqueline shortly before her death in 2012.

Hubert thought he had someone who was going to do the translation but that has now fallen through so if anyone is a French/English translator and wants the job of writing the unexpurgated version in English then do communicate with me through my website.

Unless there are many alterations, apart from the replacing of the expurgated passages, most of the work was done a long time ago when the Diairies were published in English in 1956.

Back to Battle of Britain Voices and I quote "The quality of first-hand accounts left by the Battle of Britain fighter pilots is astonishing. Many were written in the midst of the epic air battle: a hastily jotted-down diary, letters written to young wives, a contemporary interview with a journalist, or a radio broadcast, and most poignant of all, the short books that were written to while away the weeks stuck in hospital beds whilst recovering from wounds received in battle.

Battle of Britain histories often integrate testimony from pilots, but this is the first book to collect together substantial accounts to give a true idea of the exhilaration of being in a dogfight with a swarm of Messerschmitt 109s, the harrowing experience of being trapped in a burning cockpit and the mental stress of day after day of the maelstrom of air fighting. Far better than any single narrative, the 'voices' together with 150 photographs, many in colour, build up a complete picture of the Battle of Britain as it was experienced by the men who took part in it."

Well, if that summary hasn't wetted your appetite, I don't know what would. It is published by Amberley Books at £20. ISBN 978-1-4456-4264-2.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.