Tom Brokaw\'s 1998 bestseller celebrated “the greatest generation”, the US citizens who fought in World War II “not for fame or recognition, but because it was the right thing to do". This term repeatedly springs to mind as, more than sixty years on, our newspapers\' obituary pages continue to recall the extraordinary bravery, and combat and other skills that were displayed by so many individual men and women.
Two recent subjects were not US citizens but they can certainly be included amongst the greatest. The first is Squadron Leader “Hawkeye” Lee and a mention in Aircraft of the Aces 18: Hurricane Aces 1939-40 adds even more colour to the story of his disruption (“Bad show!”) of a Kentish golfer\'s peaceful afternoon 20,000 feet beneath the Battle of Britain. To avoid providing Me 109s with extra target practice, Lee coolly plummeted 11,000 feet in free-fall before opening his parachute at 6,000.
The second is Pearl Witherington, a hero of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). Warrior 117: French Resistance Fighter portrays her French comrades; she was half French herself and married one of them, Henri Cornioley. A companion title is due on the SOE in November and we may shortly be commissioning an Elite on the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the CIA, to complete a nice cluster of titles on the Allied secret agents and resistance fighters who risked and achieved so much on the occupied European mainland.