Hurricane: The Last Witnesses

Hurricane - The Last WitnessesBy Brian Milton
Published by Andre Deutsche

A total of 2,946 young pilots fought with the RAF against the German Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain – July – 31 October, 1940.

Fewer than 100 are still alive today, and of them, as one survivor says, only 17 are still standing. Winston Churchill called them ‘The Few’ and there are far fewer now than there were then.

‘Hurricane – The Last Witnesses’ is one of the last chances to hear their authentic voices.

The Spitfire is the RAF fighter aircraft many people most associate with World War II, but the Hurricane was the hero that won the Battle of Britain. The year 2010 was the 70th anniversary of Britain’s great victory.

The stories in ‘Hurricane – The Last Witnesses’ form the basis of Brian Milton’s ‘riveting’ new book.

Having tracked down some of the few surviving former Hurricane pilots who flew the aircraft during the Second World War, including 10 rare members of ‘The Few’ themselves, Brian has brought together a unique series of personal experiences to tell the story of what it was like to fly and fight in this iconic aircraft.

The action covers the doomed young flyers in the Battle of France, their ‘Finest Hour’ in the Battle of Britain, and on through the defence of Malta, the Western Desert fighting, the freezing temperatures of the Russian Arctic wastes and the suffocating heat and storms of India and Burma.

The Hurricane served in every theatre during the Second World War as a day-fighter, night-fighter, and ground attack aircraft and even on board CAM-ships guarding vital convoys. The compelling stories of the surviving heroes combine to create a complete picture of the heroic victory. It was largely won by the Hawker Hurricane, with its sister Spitfire, in the four months of the Battle of Britain, truly a knight’s battle – Milton has called for all the surviving pilots to be knighted.

The fascinating first-hand accounts of these gallant pilots form not only a history of the aircraft, but also a tribute to the many friends they lost in combat.

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The Last Witnesses – A gripping and brilliantly written account by Brian Milton recording the personal stories of the brave Hurricane Pilots. These brave men should be officially knighted for their outstanding contributions in fighting for our Freedom. Our nation gives public recognition to many who have not risked their lives nor military service so Bill Green and others should be acknowledged by being bestowed with the nations highest honours!! We are extremely proud of each of them – thanks to Brian Milton for so magnificently recording their stories. The book is gripping and worth every penny!!  Adrian Bailey – Amazon

“Shooting people in the back is perfectly acceptable behaviour for a fighter pilot on any side in any war.” In that opening sentence of ‘Hurricane – The Last Witnesses’ Brian Milton shows how the dashing iconography – the legless Douglas Bader, WAAF’s pushing coloured markers over a map at Bentley Priory, deckchairs, NAAFI tea wagons, tousle-haired young boys – is in conflict with the truth. It’s a fine book.
Michael Bywater – The Independent

Brian has written an engaging account of the Hurricane, runner-up to the Spitfire in the glamour stakes yet the major protagonist in the Battle of Britain. His knowledge of flying, and of the adventure of flying, brings the book to life. Brian’s deep admiration for all of them shines through. It is a great read, and a great tribute to the unsung heroes, and the relatively unsung workhorse they flew.
Dave Bremner – Editor, Microlight Flying

In April 2010, as Milton tells us in Hurricane – The Last Witnesses, there were fewer than a hundred Battle of Britain pilots left alive, and of them – as a survivor put it – about 17 of us are still standing. The myth does largely hold true. Britain fought for survival in 1940 and in prevailing, dramatically changed the course of the War. This was a battle mostly fought by ordinary blokes, not dashing aces, and there are signs that this approach is being adopted in some of the ways the 70th anniversary is being marked.
David Horspool – History Editor of the TLS

The stories of these brave airmen who flew in the Battle of Britain 70 years ago still exert a strong hold on the national psyche. After all, if not for their sacrifice, there is every possibility that Hitler would have been able to pull off his planned invasion, and the world would have been a very different place. Few events can truly claim to change the course of history; this was one of them.
In Hurricane – The Last Witnesses, Brian Milton, tracks down the few surviving Hurricane pilots and tells their story in riveting detail.
Time Out

You wait 70 years and then a raft of books on the Hurricane fighter comes along all at once. Fortunately the latest effort from Brian Milton is well worth its place in the pantheon of Battle of Britain books in this anniversary year. Milton tells the stories of the plane through the stories of the men who flew in her. Men like Flt Lt Eric Nicolson VC who engaged and shot down a Messerschmitt despite being badly wounded and his cockpit ablaze. Breathtaking heroism in a time when many young men left their beds at the start of the day….and never returned.
News of the World

Brian Milton’s Hurricane: The Last Witnesses, assembles the first-hand accounts of the pilots, of whom 17 survive. They speak for themselves, and, given the epic they are recounting, are well worth listening to. Very personal and biographical, largely made up of quotes, it is very readable and evocative.
Montagu Curzon – The Spectator

Hurricane – The Last Witnesses is very much about the people who flew this aircraft. While researching this book, Brian Milton interviewed 18 of the last remaining Hurricane pilots, and it is their memories that really bring it to life. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Recommended.
Today’s Pilot