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303 Squadron: The Legendary Battle of…

303 Squadron: The Legendary Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron (1942)

by Arkady Fiedler

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    The Second World War by John Keegan (Anonymous user)

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A reprint of a 1942 book documenting the actions of a Polish fighter squadron in England during the Battle Of Britain. If you've never heard of 303 Squadron, you should take a look at this book.
  sgtbigg | May 26, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
“303 Squadron” is both an important primary historical document and, it turns out, a pretty good adventure story too. Though definitely a product of its time and place (Battle of Britain-era England), it holds up well for the twenty-first century reader interested in dramatic first-person war narratives and forgotten heroism.

Following the fall of Poland to Nazi (and, lest we forget, Soviet) invaders, a fair number of Polish pilots managed to escape through Hungary and Romania and make their way to France, arriving just in time to take on the Germans again in the invasion that began (coincidentally) 71 years ago today. After France fell, they escaped again to Britain, where they flew in special Polish Air Force squadrons established and maintained by the RAF. Polish writer Arkady Fiedler chronicled the exploits of 303 Squadron, though he did so using pseudonyms for the pilots and ground crews so their families would not be exposed to Nazi reprisals.

In this great new edition from publishers Aquila Polonica, the subjects’ real names are revealed, and a great deal of additional material has been added as well. Most notable is a long section featuring the biographies of many heroic 303 Squadron pilots detailing their individual achievements and what they did after the war if they were fortunate enough to survive.

For the modern reader, author Fiedler’s style comes as a bit of a surprise. It doesn’t have the objective tone we expect historians to have (or simulate), nor much feeling of a journalist standing a step back from his story. Himself a patriotic Pole far from home, Fiedler justly celebrates brave pilots, hardworking and under-recognized ground crews, and the heroism they showed standing alongside their British allies to defeat the Nazi hordes. Indeed, Fiedler explicitly states he hopes his book will be testimony in post-war times to the strong bond that united Briton and Pole during the Finest Hour. In an era when “Polish plumber” has become shorthand for ethnic and economic tensions within the EU, we could all use a reminder of that bond. I recommend this highly. ( )
  Cascadian | May 10, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
So much fun. This was a great, quick read, written as anti-NAZI propaganda and dropped into occupied Poland to tell them the story of their countrymen fighting their occupiers in the skies over Britain and the English Channel, the language is over-the-top newsreel pomp and embellishment at its finest.

This book is written in the epic tone that portrays Poles--and particularly the Polish pilots of Squadron 303--as superhuman, mythic figures.

It makes this book an unbelievably energetic, wonderful read, though it's purpose was not to be an objective history but a public relations campaign, with unalloyed biases and soda-straw tunnel vision.

But I think this less objective style manages to portray the frenetic emergence of the situation, the drama, the passion of human feeling and the direness of the war much better than more objective accounts of the events.

This book--or perhaps its translator--manages to convey much more of the meaning and individual experience of a pivotal moment in history than a mere accounting of events could do. Written with unaccustomed panache and overdrama, I thought it was such a fun read.' ( )
  linedog1848 | May 5, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An inspiring book. I can only imagine how this story of these courageous Polish and one Czech pilot brought hope to the Polish people in such a dark time in our history. The narrative kept me on the edge of my seat as I felt I was in the pilot seat with each one of them. Unassuming real heroes the 303 was! A must read for everybody who wants to understand courage, freedom that triumphs under unimaginable odds. ( )
  dichosa | Apr 7, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The story of a small group of Polish fighter pilots in their fight against the Nazi’s during the early days of WW2, without the help of these brave men and their support crews, the Battle of Britain may very well have had a very different outcome.

If you are a history buff about WW2, then this is a must read about how the air battle over England during Aug – Sept 1940 was won by so few.

Of all the books I have the privilege of winning from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers drawings, this book is a keeper! ( )
  virg144 | Mar 28, 2011 |
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