Through the eyes of the Few

Through the eyes of the Few
May 14 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 5/14/2019 11:16:40 AM IST

 Incredible rare photos show just what the brave WWII pilots of 'The Few' would have experienced while fighting in the Battle of Britain or in the skies above Dunkirk.

Remarkable images, some of which have never been seen before, capture the life and times of Squadron 610's fighter pilots, a unit which witnessed some of the most intensive aerial combat in the Second World War.  

The squadron was formed in Chester and initially flew out of Hooton Park in the Wirral, but moved to RAF Gravesend at the outbreak of the war and then RAF Biggin Hill in south London before the Battle of Britain.  

The pictures form part of a new book on the squadron - 610 (County of Chester): Auxiliary Air Force Squadron 1936-1940 - written by military historian David Bailey. 

Squadron 610 was one of the units that bore the brunt of the Luftwaffe offensive in summer 1940 and sustained heavy losses, eventually moving to RAF Acklington in Northumberland at the end of August that year to recover. 

The 610 (County of Chester) Squadron was first established in 1936 at Hooton Park, Wirral.

On 26 May 1940, Churchill ordered the start of Operation Dynamo - the evacuation of more than 330,000 Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk during WWII.

RAF Fighter Command began to operate patrols from Boulogne to Dunkirk and the operations were to continue for the next nine days during the evacuation.

They suffered heavy losses, but over 800 small boats volunteered to help bring 330,000 troops home, the RAF stoically performed their duty of protecting the shores and providing shelter over the evacuation.

The 610 Squadron then played a key role in the Battle of Britain, claiming a heavy toll on the Luftwaffe while operating from Biggin Hill and Hawkinge.

Due to the hard work of The Few - supported by the many on the ground - Britain was able to stand firm in 1940 and eventually launch the counter attack four years later which would see the Allied Forces defeat the Third Reich. 

David Bailey's 610 (County of Chester): Auxiliary Air Force Squadron 1936-1940 is published by Fonthill Media.

(Joseph Curtis and Harry Howard for Mailonline)

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