Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer An RAF Officer’s Memoir of the Battle of France 1940
Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer is a vivid and lyrical memoir of life as an RAF reconnaissance pilot in France during the hellish summer of 1940. It brings to life the fear, loneliness and pain that Alastair Panton and his comrades came to live with during those long weeks, as well as the bravery, camaraderie and humanity that made those unpredictable days more bearable.
The aeroplane Panton captained throughout this intense period was a Bristol Blenheim Mark IV. He saw the Blenheim as his friend and saviour. It was the vehicle from which he and his crew were able to spot the enemy and save lives, repeatedly withstanding shooting and bombardment to facilitate dramatic landings and rescues.
Yet despite these heroic adventures, culminating in his being shot down a fourth time, captured and made a prisoner of war, Panton describes Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer as a story of failure. Whilst he survived, so many of his friends and comrades did not, and this grief never left him.
Panton’s extraordinary book, written in the aftermath of the war but discovered posthumously, is edited and introduced by his granddaughter Victoria Panton Bacon. A candid and gripping read, this is very much the story of a pilot and his plane.
It is the best account of the chaos and confusion of war – and a British defeat – outside the pages of Evelyn Waugh. It deserves to be a best seller.Boris Johnson, The Times
The clarity of this book … is as surprising as its humanity; it rattles along as both great drama and poignant social commentary … [his story] deserves to be told.The Times
What I assumed might be a dutiful skim through yet another war memoir, rapidly turned into one of the most enthralling accounts of a campaign I have ever read.Best of British
The story is beautifully written … and it is quite difficult to put down once started. This really would make a wonderful Christmas present.Ian Carter, Blenheim Society Journal
One can’t help feeling awe and reverence for people like this. There are enough adventures here for a lifetime, let alone six weeks.Louis de Bernieres
This story grips you by the lapels and sometimes by the throat, and all who love tales of war will devour every page; but I'd especially recommend it to non-WW2-addicts, for it's really a story of failure, reminding us that courage and skill don't always win the day, but are to be valued for themselves.Matthew Parris
The late Alastair Panton and his granddaughter, Victoria, have combined to produce a gripping account of the traumatic early days of World War Two... I commend it as a book that will appeal equally to the military historian and the general reader alike.General the Lord Richard Dannatt, GCB, CBE, MC, DL, former Head of the British Army
As a former member of the Royal Air Force I read this book with immense anticipation. Alistair Panton’s courage, determination and professionalism in terrible circumstances is astounding, it is because of men like Alistair that I’m so proud to have been part of the RAF.Duncan Slater, first double amputee to reach the South Pole, Former Sgt and RAF Veteran
I was riveted by this story set during the grim days of the German blitzkreig through France in 1940. Alastair Panton's tale of how he and his RAF crews contributed to the fight against the advancing Nazis is utterly enthralling. Highly recommended.Brigadier Hugh Monro CBE – former Highland soldier and Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland
One of the gems published last year.Rye's Own
What comes over is the extraordinary life of these airmen, who were living in care-free comfort one moment and dying horrible deaths only a few minutes later.Shropshire Star
[T]here is so much in it for you to enjoy for yourself… [An] adventure, it none the less brings home the realities of war and for that is doubly to be valued.InterLib