Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer by Alastair Panton and Victoria Panton Bacon, is a memoir written by a second world war pilot which has been compiled and edited by his granddaughter. The account was written down by Alastair Panton for his son originally, and it is thanks to Victoria Panton Bacon, who found the manuscript after her father died, that it has been brought to publication. As she says, ‘If I hadn’t discovered the transcript of Blenheim Summer in my father’s dusty garage it might never have come to light.’
Alastair Panton’s writing is clean and elegant; he is a good writer, which is perhaps most clearly demonstrated in the accompanying short stories, based on his own experiences of POW camp and escape attempts. His style is spare but full of humanity and telling detail, wry humour and a sense of immediacy. His appraisal of his own abilities and actions is both honest and modest, and he has the ability to take the reader into that brief world of French summer before the Germans broke that fragile idyll apart. He depicts the French countryside and its people and their sometimes difficult responses to both British presence and German invasion, as well as the warmth and courage of those who put their lives and safety on the line to help the British who were caught up in the action.
This is a good read, and difficult to put down.