The purpose and scope of this history were described by the late Hilary Saunders and myself in our general preface, printed in the first volume. Here it is perhaps sufficient if I recall that the story is, for reasons of space, confined largely to operations and the policy governing them: that it is not part of the full-length Official History of the War, and is intended for a somewhat wider audience: that it was, nevertheless, officially commissioned, and is based throughout on official documents, to which the fullest access was given: and that the authors, while gratefully acknowledging official help and advice, are alone responsible for the statements made and the views expressed.

For help with this volume, as with the others, our debt was particularly great to the Air Ministry Historical Branch, under Mr. J. C. Nerney. Indeed, without the assistance of that admirable organization, always fully and freely at our service we could hardly have begun our task, let alone finished it.

The text of this volume, like that of volumes one and three, was substantially completed during 1950. The first four and the last four chapters were written by Hilary Saunders, the middle eight by myself. My friend and collaborator, however, did not live to read the printer’s profs. Throughout the whole period of his work on this history he was in fact struggling against ill health. His premature death was assuredly a direct result of immense labours, from 1940 onwards, to bring home to his fellow-countrymen the full measure of the achievement of those whose battlefield was ‘the blue dome of air’.

D. R.

November 1953