Winston Churchill's 'Book of Heroes' goes up for sale

Winston Churchill’s ‘Book of Heroes’ signed by 100 RAF fliers from ‘The Few’ who won the Battle of Britain including Douglas Bader goes up for sale for £50,000

  • Book was put together by Norman Phillips who was the mess steward in Suffolk
  • Winston Churchill once said the book was not ‘of names, but a book of heroes’ 
  • Air ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader is said to have created the cover
  • More than 20 men who signed it were awarded Distinguished Flying Cross 

Winston Churchill’s ‘book of heroes’ containing the signatures of 100 RAF pilots from The Few who won the Battle of Britain has been put up for sale for £50,000.

The book was once shown to Churchill who said: ‘It is not a book of names, but a book of heroes – Got forbid it should ever be lost.’ 

It was put together by Norman Phillips who was the mess steward at RAF Martlesham Heath in Suffolk. In 2011 it sold for £33,600.

Mr Phillips asked the Allied airmen who defended Britain from the German Luftwaffe 80 years ago to sign it, with the legendary pilots including air ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader.

Bader, who claimed at least 22 victories on tin legs after suffering two amputations aged 21, reportedly made the covering which protects the book after cutting the material from a chair in the mess.

The autograph book signed by Douglas Bader (pictured). Bader, who claimed at least 22 victories on tin legs after suffering two amputations aged 21, reportedly made the covering which protects the book after cutting the material from a chair in the mess

One of the signatures belongs to tragic ace Flight Lieutenant Hugh Tamblyn (pictured), who received the DFC from King George VI on April 1, 1941. Two days later the Hurricane pilot was shot down off the Suffolk coast by a German Dornier fighter-bomber

More than 20 of the airmen who signed the book were awarded the prestigious Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry.

One of the signatures belongs to tragic ace Flight Lieutenant Hugh Tamblyn, who received the DFC from King George VI on April 1, 1941.

Two days later the Hurricane pilot was shot down off the Suffolk coast by a German Dornier fighter-bomber.

His body was recovered from the sea and he was buried at the nearby Ipswich Cemetery.

Another signature was from the extraordinary German-born RAF pilot Count Manfred Beckett Czernin, who went on to become a Special Operations Executive spy behind enemy lines in Italy.

The book was once shown to Churchill who said: ‘It is not a book of names, but a book of heroes – Got forbid it should ever be lost.’ It was put together by Norman Phillips who was the mess steward at RAF Martlesham Heath in Suffolk. In 2011 it sold for £33,600

Robert Stanford Tuck (6th on left) pictured with with pilots of No. 257 Squadron RAF under the nose of Tuck’s Hawker Hurricane

Sir Winston and Lady Churchill leaving their Hyde Park Gate home for an Ascot race meeting on June 16, 1961

Wing Commander Robert Stanford Tuck, an ace with 29 enemy aircraft destroyed, also signed the book.

After being shot down over France in 1942, he was a PoW at Stalag Luft III where he helped plan the Great Escape.

He was moved to another camp before the famous breakout took place, which probably saved his life as 50 escapees were executed upon their recapture.

After acquiring the signatures, Mr Steward gave the book to his friend Eric Powell, who became a football scout for teams including Manchester City and Everton.

He sold it in 1985 and it is now being offered for sale by a private collector with Stroud Auctions of Gloucestershire.

Wing Commander Robert Stanford Tuck (pictured), an ace with 29 enemy aircraft destroyed, also signed the book. After being shot down over France in 1942, he was a PoW at Stalag Luft III where he helped plan the Great Escape

Mark Rozelaar, auctioneer at Stroud Auctions, said: ‘This is an extraordinary World War Two Battle of Britain autograph book signed by over 100 pilots at RAF Martlesham Heath just outside Ipswich.

‘Over 20 of the pilots who have signed the book were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, six of these being awarded a bar and one a double bar.

‘The stories of the pilots are astonishing and to write a history of them all would quite easily fill a book.

‘Although the signatures were obtained in 1941, after the Battle of Britain, many of the pilots were active during the battle and some gained DFCs during this period.

‘Some signatures are especially poignant as the airmen were killed just weeks later.


Alfred Henry Basil Friendship (left) and Norman Douglas Edmond (right) were among 100 others who signed the book 

Mr Phillips asked the Allied airmen who defended Britain from the German Luftwaffe 80 years ago to sign the book (pictured)

‘By repute the rexine covering worn by the book was cut from a chair by Douglas Bader himself, in order to protect the book.

‘It is also said that Churchill said to Bader that the book was ‘not a book of names, but a book of heroes – God forbid it should ever be lost’.

‘I do not know of any other autograph book with this many Battle of Britain signatures.’

A total of 1,542 Allied aircrew were killed during the Battle of Britain which spanned from July to October 1940.

The last surviving Battle of Britain pilot is 101 year old Group Captain John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway, who served with 85 Squadron.

Churchill said of their wartime contribution: ‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few.’

The sale takes place in January 8. 

Of the 100 pilots who signed the book those identified include: 

Andrew Douglas Farquhar

Hugh Norman Tamblyn

Count Manfred Beckett Czernin

Thomas P McGerty

Cyril Bernard Temlett

M.K.Brown

Leonard Walter Stevens

H.C.Black

Norman Douglas Edmond

Percival Stanley ‘Stan’ Turner

Alfred Henry Basil Friendship

Robert Stanford Tuck

Howard Blatchford

Jameson, Patrick Geraint

George Alfred Brown

Alfred William Alexander Bayne

Jack Kenneth Ross

Gerald Richmond Edge

C W Passy

Gerald Benjamin Hawes

Sam Alfred ‘Uncle’ Mauriello

Peter Douglas Thompson

Derek Nigel Forde

Eric William ‘Ricky’ Wright

Denis Crowley-Milling

Charles Ian Rose Arthur

Robert Davidson Grassick

Wilfred Patrick (Paddy) Francis Treacy

William H Nichols

Peter Provenzano

Charles Francis Ambrose  

Royce Clifford Wilkinson

Luke Elbert Allen 

Charles Edward ‘Ed’ Bateman

Alec Edward Berry

John Denys Fletcher

Edward Philip Patrick

Eugene Quimby ‘Red’ Tobin

Gregory Augustus Daymond

Kenneth Samson Taylor

James Leland McGinnis

Richard Arthur Moore

N.C.Langham-Hobart

William Ervin G Taylor

John Lonsdale 

John F Flynn

Basil Gerald ‘Stapme’ Stapleton

William Pelham Hopkin

Chesley ‘Pete’ Peterson

‘Bill’ Hall 71 E squadron

Stanley Michel ‘Mike’ Kolendorski

R F Aitken

R C Ward

Henry de Clifford Anthony Woodhouse

Peter P Hanks

R A McGowan

Stewart Patterson

Brad ‘Pinky’ Walker

Fred ‘Popeye’ Kelly

Harry Crease

Thomas Burgess Little 

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