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4.6 out of 5 stars30
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 16 April 2013
I can thoroughly recommend this to anyone interested in the story of the RAF in the Second World War. It is written modestly but describes the fighter pilot's life very well. With a little discussion of the immediate pre-war period first, it describes Tom Neil's early career, learning to fly and going into operational service. He flies Spitfires briefly but, mainly, Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain. He is not operating in the most heavily-pressed 11 Group area at first but his accounts of wartime flying in 12 and 10 Groups are gripping and engaging. He moved to North Weald in 11 Group in September 1940 where the pace of operations steps up to an exhausting level and was there for the climax of the Battle.
There are many fascinating descriptions of some of the "personalities" of the Battle. His own achievements are considerable and he wins the DFC for some of these. This book ends its coverage in December 1940 but Neil continued in RAF service to the end of the war and is now one of the few surviving Battle of Britain veterans. This is a well-written account and well worth reading.
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on 10 October 2013
I have read a number of books about WW2 but not sure any have had such an impact as 'Gun button to fire'. Tom Neil conveys the realities of being a fighter pilot during with Battle of Britian without ever sensationalising the events. Having briefly met Wg Cdmr Neil, who I can only describe as true gentleman. If you only ever read one book about the Battle then I would strongly recommend you read this one.
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on 21 July 2015
This is the best book I have read about the Battle of Britain and I have read most of them. Wing Commander Tom Neil is a gifted Author.
His book captures the spirit of the time, he describes his feelings,the frustration and fears of flying the Hawker Hurricane Mk1 in combat
which was hardly a match for the German Messerscmitt Me 109E Fighter often flown by combat experienced German Pilots. He shares
with us the discomfort and bitter cold of flying at high altitude in the draughty Hurricane Cockpit. The frustration of being vectored up but
not finding the enemy, the loss of many good friends in combat, the daily wait to be scrambled, not knowing if this is going to be your last.
We also feel the atmosphere of an Air Force fighting against the odds to survive. Despite it all Tom Neil destroys 13 Me 109's during the
Battle. At times I felt I was in the Cocpit with him. It is a great book, simply the best. He is my Hero,
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on 5 November 2013
Happy memories came flooding back with every page I read. Brilliant writing so glad Wg.Cdr.Tom Neil kept such excellent records - way out in front of every one else's descriptions on the life of a fighter pilot - hence my 5 Star rating. I would recommend this book to young and old alike.
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on 21 August 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially as I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Tom Neil in the early 1980's. His writing reminded me of what a gentleman he was and also gave me much more insight into his character as a young man and pilot. My rating is slightly lower to reflect the somewhat complex nature of some of the descriptions of his flying exploits for a layman such as I.
What I did love were his descriptions of friends and colleagues where his clear affection, or otherwise, shines through his words.
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on 27 February 2014
I would recommend this insightful book to anybody interested in WW2, the RAF or the Battle of Britain in particular. Vividly written by one who had first hand experience of that epic period. It's well-written and also contains some great photographs. I've been fortunate enough to meet the author and it's amazing to read about what he & his colleagues, so many of whom were unfortunate enough not to survice, accomplished.
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on 10 September 2013
Fabulous reading...damn good writer,could not put it down, managed to read in one day such was the captivating in this book
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on 5 March 2015
A blindingly good read written in a very matter of fact style, the last chapter when he runs through the names
of his squadron comrades makes sad reading and there is a hint of bitterness about certain things he thought
that should not have happened.
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on 30 September 2015
Tom Neil is one of The Few. As a young man he helped save Britain from invasion and the horrors of concentration camps. This story is well written, moving and tells the story for all of these men who fought in the skies over Britain in defence of their loved ones and the people of Britain. He writes vividly and is a good author who takes you with him into furious, hard fought combats such as happened on September 15th-Battle of Britain Day, where he destroyed 4 enemy aircraft. Tom Neil was one of the top scoring aces of the Battle of Britain ending 1940 with 13 victories and later fighting in Malta where he gained another victory. Today this courageous man is just one of the 25 survivors of The Few as I write this and this is by far the best book written by one of these men that I have read. His descriptions of life as a Battle of Britain pilot are vivid and evocative and he brings to life the many friends he saw killed in WW2 like his great friends of 249 Hurricane Squadron:James "Nick" Nicolson VC and George Barclay-both of whom I was lucky to hear about from Tom`s own mouth whilst he signed this book for me.I have met him many times but had to get this book to learn about him as he is humble when talking of his war but prefers to speak of those he knew. May God bless him and The Few. Please remember them. This book will be one of the best books you read of the humour, tragedy and triumphs in war, told from the letters and diaries he wrote at the time, which he took a decision to leave as he wrote them, so as to be a fresh and honest description of what he felt at the time. He tells the story for all of those who fell in battle in 1940 and succeeds in bringing them back to live again in these pages for a whole new generation to learn from and to be impressed by. Gun Button To Fire was once a hard to get out of print book fetching hundreds of pounds. I am glad to see it reprinted. Tom Neil is not only a fine fighter pilot , he is a best selling author and worthy of our memory. Paul Davies BoBHSc
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on 2 April 2015
An excellent addition to anybody's Battle of Britain library. Tom Neil tells it as it is - the exhilaration, the boredom, the frustration, the humour of his time as a BoB Hurricane pilot.
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