That Burning Summer: links and background resources


March 1, 2015 by Lydia Syson

Interested in exploring any of the history, ideas or places in That Burning Summer?  Here are some good starting points – books, short stories, websites, online articles, films, museums etc, all loosely grouped by theme, many of which obviously overlap. Clearly, this is far from definitive. Most of this I used while I was writing the novel, but I will continue to add new material as it emerges. Please feel free to contact me with suggestions.  If you find a broken link, please let me know.


Romney Marsh

Edward Carpenter: Romney Marsh at War (1999), Romney Marsh Yesteryears, (1983)

Anne Reeves and David Eve: Sheep-Keeping and Lookers’ Huts on Romney Marsh (1998)

Brian Ferry & Dorothy Beck: Dungeness before 1960: The Landscape and the People, 2004

Stuart Hilton, Kent and Sussex, 1940

Fay Godwin and Richard Ingrams, Romney Marsh and the Royal Military Canal, (1980) (Nobody took photographs of Romney Marsh quite like Fay Godwin, while Ingrams’ text is hilarious eg ‘Unlike its neighbour Rye, Winchelsea has no vulgar antiques stalls and few tea shops.  The bus shelter must be the only unvandalized one in the district.)


The Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust – and a good if slightly out-of-date article by Sophie Campbell about visiting the churches. Newchurch church has a fascinating local history exhibition inside it – not to mention a very self-service café and second-hand bookshop – although sadly its history website no longer seems to be online.  David Cawley has written a booklet on the history of St Thomas Becket church, Fairfield.

Find out more about the history of smuggling on Romney Marsh. (And more info here.)

Visiting Romney Marsh? Lots of up-to-date advice and information here.

Other museums: RAF museums in North London and Shropshire.

Imperial War Museum, London and Duxford


Lack of Moral Fibre/Flying Fatigue

Joanna Bourke:  Fear – a Cultural History (Virago 2005)

Jonathan Croall: Don’t You Know There’s A War On: Voices from the Home Front (Hutchinson 1988)

Allan D. English: A Predisposition to Cowardice? Aviation Psychology and the Genesis of ‘Lack of Moral Fibre [Source: War & Society, Volume 13, Number 1, May 1995 , pp. 15-34(20)]

Edgar Jones “LMF“: The Use of Psychiatric Stigma in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War (The Journal of Military History, 70, April 2006)

Ben Shepherd: A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists, 1914-1994 (Pimlico, 2002)

C. P. Symonds, ‘The Human Response to Flying Stress: Lecture 1: Neurosis in Flying Personnel‘, The British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4326 (Dec. 4, 1943), pp. 703-706


Home Front & Spies

Home Front: BBC – WW2 People’s War – Spy Fever & Kent

Graham Greene, ‘The Lieutenant Died Last’ (Old Bill Purves, the poacher, meets a parachute corps) (short story in Collier’s Weekly, June 29, 1940, which inspired Cavalcanti’s film Went the Day Well? – here’s an article on its publication history) 

Graham Greene, The Ministry of Fear (Heinemann, 1943; Vintage, 2006)

Jean Rose Freedman, Whistling in the Dark: Memory and Culture in Wartime London (University Press of Kentucky, 1999)

ed. Neil Hanson with Tom Priestley, Priestley’s Wars (Great Northen Books, 2008)

Nicolas Hawkes, The story of J.B. Priestley’s Postscripts (2008) 

N.B. This is available from The J.B.Priestley Society. (If only this Archive on Four and this series were still available – fingers crossed for repeats soon.  In the meanwhile, do read this post by Alison Cullingford, Librarian of the Univeristy of Bradford’s Special Collections, where the Priestley Archive is housed, and also this.)

Naomi Royde Smith Outside Information: A Diary of Rumour, (1941)  (The Spectator‘s review of this in 1941is worth quoting: ‘Londoners now have to suffer what the inhabitants of Madrid once patiently endured – visits from the well-meaning who take back highly coloured accounts of their experiences.)

Berry Mayall & Virginia Morrow, You Can Help Your Country: English children’s work during the Second World War, (Institute of Education, 2011)

Sadie Ward, War in the Countryside, 1939-45, (David & Charles, 1988)

Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, Austerity in Britain: Rationing, Controls and Consumption 1939-1955, (OUP, 2002) 

Donald Thomas, An Underground at War: Spivs, Deserters, Racketeers and Civilians in the Second World War, (John Murray, 2003)

A.G. Street From Dusk till Dawn (1943: republished by Oxford Paperbacks in 1989 with subtitle ‘The Sedgebury Wallop Home Guard Platoon Prepare for War’)

Norman Longmate, How we lived then: a history of everyday life during the Second World War, (1973; 2002)

Anthony Livesey, Are we at war? Letters to the Times 1939-45, (1989)

Trustees of the Mass Observation, Nella Last’s War: The Second World War Diaries of ‘Housewife, 49’, (Profile, 2006)

Angus Calder,The People’s War: Britain 1939-1945 (Pimlico new ed. 1992) and The Myth of the Blitz (Pimlico new ed 1992)

Midge Gillies Waiting for Hitler: Voices from Britain on the Brink of Invasion, (Hodder, 2006)

Juliet Gardiner, Wartime Britain 1939-1945, (Headline, 2004)

Paul Addison & Jeremy Crang, eds., Listening to Britain: Home Intelligence Reports on Britain’s Finest Hour – May to September 1940, (Bodley Head, 2010)

DVDs: The Complete Humphrey Jennings Vol 2: Fires Were Started (includes The Heart of Britain, Words for Battle, Fires Were Started & The Silent VillageBFI

The Next of Kin, (1942)



Peter Fleming Invasion 1940: An account of the German preparations and the British counter-measure, (Rupert Hart-Davis, London 1957)

Richard Overy, The Battle of Britain: Myth and Reality, (Penguin, 2010)

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, (First published as Pilote de guerre, 1942; the translation I used was by William Rees, first published by Penguin in 1995)

Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, (Vintage, 2011)

Richard C. Lukas, Did the children cry?: Hitler’s War Against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939-1945,  and Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation, 1939-1944 (both Hippocrene, 2001)

Halik Kochanski, The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and Poles in the Second World War 

Mark Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe (Allen Lane, 2008),


Aviation history and archaeology

The Protection of Military Remains Act of 1986 was an attempt to deal with the ethical implications of excavating crash sites like the one described in That Burning Summer.  The British Aviation Archaeological Council website offers a wealth of information for researchers of historic aircraft crash sites, including regularly updated links and booklists.

Guy de la Bedoyere, Battles over Britain: The Archaeology of the Air War (Tempus, 2000)

Dilip Sarkar, Missing in Action: Resting in Peace? (Ramrod, 1998)

Aircraft crash sites – information from English Heritage

To Dig or Not to Dig? History Today

R.A.Saville-Sneath Aircraft Recognition (A Penguin Special first published 1941: reproduction editions easily available)

Friend or Foe?


Polish Pilots in the Battle of Britain

Documentary photographer and historian of visual culture Janina Struk wrote recently in The Guardian of her Polish father’s lucky escape from France thanks to Operation Aerial. 

Lynne Olson & Stanley Cloud, For Your Freedom and Ours: The Kosciuszko Squadron – Forgotten Heroes of World War II, (2004)

Robert Gretyngier, in association with Wojtek Matusiak, Poles in Defence of Great Britain, July 1940-June 1941 (London, Grub St, 2001)

Josef Zielnski, Polish Airmen in the Battle of Britain, 2005 (A very useful book, with a short chapter on every airman, but not easy to get hold of)

Adam Zamoyski, The Forgotten Few: The Polish Air Force in World War II (1995, Pen & Sword Aviation, 2009)

Kenneth K. Koskodan No Greater Ally: The Untold Story of Poland’s Forces in World War II (Osprey, 2011)

Arkady Fiedler, 303 Squadron: The Legendary Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron (2010)

F.B.Czarmomski, They Fight for Poland: The War in the First Person, (1941 – Front Line Library)

Patrick Bishop, Fighter Boys: Saving Britain 1940, (Harper, 2003)

Jonathan Falconer, Life as a Battle of Britain Pilot, (The History Press, 2007)

Battle of Britain monument…find out about the Polish airmen.

RAF Museum online exhibition on Polish Pilots

Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum

Commemorative site with information to help find all the cemetaries in the world where Polish airmen were buried during WW2

Battle of Britain heritage trail


Pacifism and Conscientious Objection

Peace Pledge Union website – especially the Conscientious Objection Project

Frances Partridge, A Pacifists War (Hogarth Press, 1978)

Kenneth Mellanby’s Guinea Pigs article

Caroline Moorehead, Troublesome People: Enemies of War: 1916-1986  (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1987)

Rachel Barker, Conscience, Government and War, (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982)

Denis Hayes, Challenge of Conscience: the Story of the Conscientious Objectors of 1939-1949, (Published for the Central Board for Conscientious Objectors, Allen & Unwin, 1949)

Sonya Rose, Which People’s War? National Identity and Citizenship in Wartime Britain, 1939-1945, (OUP, 2004)

Felicity Goodall A Question of Conscience (1997) reprinted as We Will Not Go to War: Conscientious Objection during the World Wars by The History Press, 2010.

Clifford Simons, ed. The Objectors, (Times Press: Anthony Gibbs & Phillips)

Martin Ceadel ‘A Legitimate Peace Movement: The case of Britain, 1918-1945’ in Challenge to Mars: Essays on Pacifism from 1918 to 1945 ed Peter Brock & Thomas P Socknat, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999)

Recommended fiction

For adults:     A.L. Kennedy, Day (Vintage, 2008)

Iréne Nemirovsky, Suite Française, (Vintage, 2007)

For children: Barbara Mitchelhill, Run Rabbit Run, (Andersen, 2011)

– and these are some WW1 novels for children and teenagers addressing pacifism and C.O.

Theresa Breslin, Remembrance (2002)

Marcus Sedgwick, Cowards (first published 2003, now reissued)


Museums in Kent:

Lydd Town Museum – The Old Fire Station, Queens Road, Lydd, Romney Marsh, Kent TN29 9HL 

Kent Battle of Britain Museum – Aerodrome Road, Hawkinge
Nr. Folkestone, Kent CT18 7AG, Tel: 01303 893140 – is huge, with relics from over 600 crashed aircraft.

Brenzett Aeronautical Museum Trust

Lashenden Air MuseumHeadcorn Aerodrome, Headcorn, Ashford,
Kent TN27 9HX – regular flypasts.

Any questions? Broken links? Other suggestions?  Please do get in touch via the comments or email me.


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