Lettice Curtis – A Personal tribute

We were all saddened to hear of the death of Lettice Curtis last week as her autobiography was one of the first books that we published as Red Kite.  Simon Parry had known her for many years and here is his personal tribute to a remarkable woman.

Lettice Curtis
1915 –2014
A Personal Tribute
It’s always a sad day when someone you have known passes away, and so it was when I heard that Lettice had died last week.
A fine obituary can be found here:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/27/lettice-curtis

But what was she really like?

We first met in the late 1980s when I helped her overcome some problems reprinting ‘Forgotten Pilots’ her history of the ATA. Typically ‘annoyed’ with incompetent publishers, Lettice decided that she would do it herself. She possessed a keen a memory and telephoned me some years later, ‘I want a publisher for my next book and want you to do it.’ For some reason, she seemed to ‘tolerate’ me more than most; and for Lettice to ‘tolerate’ you was as good as you got. She was a woman who did not tolerate fools gladly – in fact she did not tolerate them at all!
Thus ‘commanded’ I published her biography of the Duchess of Bedford ‘ Winged Odyssey’ and she arranged a book signing at Duke and Duchess of Bedford’s estate at Woburn Abbey to coincide with the annual Moth Club event. In these elegant surroundings she was engaged in conversation by one of the pilots who had flown his Tiger Moth into the small grass airstrip.
“It’s very tricky on finals here isn’t it”, he said, “not much room to get down. ”
Then he made his mistake by asking if she had ever landed there.
“Yes, many times – but I was flying Halifaxes – and the landing strip was much smaller then.”
With that, the Moth pilot was dismissed.
Lettice struck fear into anyone who picked up the phone – when she called there was never any doubt who was speaking, or that you would do exactly as she bid. So it was that I was ‘commanded’ to publish her autobiography. I made many visits to her bungalow near Reading while I tried to make sense of the box of papers, cuttings and photographs that constituted her manuscript. Among the photographs was a magnificent 10×8 of her standing next to a belly-landed Mosquito that appeared to have had a mishap after the undercarriage had been accidentally raised; so I asked Lettice what the story behind it was. She took the photograph, considered it for a while, then pronounced, “That never happened” and put it into a draw.

Below is a photo of Lettice signing copies of her autobiography several years ago.  The hardback edition sold out but we still have copies of the softback reprint, it really is a remarkable story of a pioneering woman in a male dominated industry.

Click on the photo for more details;

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New Titles Now in Stock

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The two new books were delivered bang on schedule to our warehouse yesterday, so those with pre-orders should start to receive their books from Saturday onwards.

As you can see from the photo, the Flying Film Stars book is a particularly impressive size,  the 368 pages dwarfing the 128 pages of Luftwaffe Crash Archive 5.

We’ll keep the introductory price of Flying Film Stars at £25 for the moment so don’t miss the chance to snap up this unique book for your library!

New Titles Uploaded

We’ve just uploaded both Luftwaffe Crash Archive Volume 5 and Flying Film Stars to the site, so pre-ordering is now available.  Easiest way to find them is by clicking on the banner above which will take you to our forthcoming books page.

Both books have sample PDFs for you to download and browse, just click on the link on their respective pages.

We expect both books to be delivered into our warehouse on or before 28th June so all pre-orders will be despatched from that date in the order that they were received.  Do look at our special package offer which allows you to buy both books together for just £40, with free UK postage!

NEW FORTHCOMING BOOK! – Flying Film Stars


Two years ago we were approached by an author regarding a book he was writing about aircraft in British War Films.  As with most enquiries like this we asked him to send a synopsis and a sample chapter so that we could consider it.  We initially felt that it might be too specialised even for our regular collectors but when we got sight of the manuscript we realised that it just had to be published.  This is the definitive/chapter and verse/fully comprehensive guide to every aircraft that has ever appeared in a British WWII war film.  From mind blowing detail relating to the classic films such as The Battle of Britain and 633 Squadron, to identifying aircraft that appeared for a split second on a stock footage backdrop behind Jimmy Cagney, this book has it all!

Already running to 368 A4 pages we decided not to include illustrations, instead this is a handy directory that you’ll pull off the shelf every time one of these films is on TV.  It’s also great for looking up old movies that you may never have seen after reading here that there’s good footage of Hampdens or Whitleys going about their business.

The book will be published at the end of June along with LCA5 and we’ll be inviting pre-orders at the end of May.


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Luftwaffe Crash Archive Volume 5


We’ve just completed the main design stage of LCA Volume 5 which now allows us announce the dates covered by this volume and show the new cover. This volume will cover from 28th September – 27th October 1940, a period dominated by bomb carrying Messerschmitt Bf109s. We’ve commissioned around 8 profiles for this one including some quite colourful Bf109 schemes.

Here’s a preview of the cover. The book will go to the printers on 1st June and so should be published around 24th June. We’ll upload the book to the website for pre-orders at the end of this month.


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New WW2 Images added

On the photo libraries link above you’ll find the latest thirty images added today to the ww2images archive. They mainly consist of early Spitfire photos including this one;
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which depicts the first Spitfire delivered to the RAF K9792 lying damaged beyond repair after stub axle of port mainwheel sheared off. The aircraft had flipped on its back after the propeller had dug in whilst landing at Duxford, 20th September 1938.

All pre-orders now despatched

Just a quick update to confirm that all pre-orders for the new books have now been despatched.  Your account will probably still be showing a status of  ‘processing’ but this is simply because we’re trying to work out a quick way of changing the status to ‘sent’ on all pre-orders together rather than doing them individually!

New Books Now In Stock!

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We are delighted to announce that our four new aviation books arrived exactly on schedule today, Friday 7th March.
Our despatch team are now working hard to get as many of the hundreds of advanced orders out as possible over the weekend, so please bear with us!
You can still order Luftwaffe Crash Archive 4 at the pre-order price of just £20 + postage, the full RRP of £25 will apply from 1st April.

New Titles now available for pre-order!

We’ve just uploaded the four new titles that we’ve been working on recently, so all are now available for pre-order.
The new titles are two volumes of the War Torn Skies series, covering Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire; a long overdue softback reprint of Lettice Curtis’s autobiography and of course, the one that many are waiting for, Luftwaffe Crash Archive Volume 4.

All books should be delivered to us no later than 7th March so any orders placed which include any of the above will be despatched from 7th March, or before if the books arrive early. We’ll keep you posted on here of progress.

To celebrate the launch of these four new books, we’ve reworked our postage rates so that we can now offer FREE postage for all UK orders over £31. Any UK orders below £31 in value will be covered by a flat charge of just £3 per order. So if you’re placing an order for LCA4 for UK delivery, why not add another book to qualify for free postage.

(All combined orders of pre-order books and books that are in stock will be held and despatched in one package from 7th March.)

Click on the banner above to preview the four new books.