Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC* AFC was one of the RAF’s highest scoring Aces during the Battle of Britain and in the past thirty years has written a number of successful books and articles about his extensive wartime career. He has also written three ‘short story’ books which blend incidents from his wartime career into a satisfying mixture of fact and fiction, mainly to explore the emotional and psychological effects that wartime flying had on him and his comrades and to tell stories that couldn’t be told in his regular auto-biographies.
Now in his final book, Tom Neil has written a full length novel, Portrait of an Airman which still draws upon his wartime experiences but uses them to tell a gently paced but compelling fictional story. Again, several incidents are based on true events.
Portrait of an Airman is a dramatic story of love, courage and sacrifice amid the tumult and trauma of war.
When 22 year old Flight Lieutenant Tom Fitzgerald is invited back to his old school to talk about his adventures in the Battle of Britain, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with his old French teacher Celia Beytagh.
Despite their considerable age difference, Tom and Celia grow ever closer as the war takes its toll on both of them. Surrounded by danger, jealousy and heartache they find themselves pushed emotionally to their limits, and beyond.
A tale of love, life and tragedy where two people are brought together by the chaos of war.
Sometimes, the most unlikely relationships are those that last the longest.
Please read the sample pages below to get an idea of the style of this unique hardback book.
Tom Neil joined 249 Squadron in May 1940 and flew throughout the Battle of Britain becoming one of the most successful aces with 13 confirmed victories. A Flight Commander by the age of 20, he was then posted to Malta where he saw further action in the intense battle to defend the island. Returning to the UK he was given command of 41 Squadron and then attached to the USAAF as a flying liaison officer, flying both the P-51 and P-47 on operations. He retired from the RAF in 1963 and passed away in 2018.