Why the British won - in a nutshell.
The Luftwaffe treated its fighter pilots like investment bankers. Instead of million dollar bonuses for high profits the incentive system was based on medals awarded for getting high personal scores. The RAF pilots paid little attention to scores and fought as a team. The Luftwaffeâs Gordon Gecko culture led to some very strange behaviour in which the main concern was not winning the battle but looking after their big hitters. So in the end, of course, the Luftwaffe crashed just as the banks did.
At the end of the filming, the crew asked me for a few words about Richard Hillary, during which I mentioned his friend Peter Pease, who features in Hillaryâs famous book The Last Enemy. As they were packing up, I told them the story of Peterâs last flight. They decided to unpack again and do a final take.
Shortly after Spitfire Ace was broadcast, I received a letter written with a fountain pen in a clear, elegant hand, which ended by thanking me for what I had said about Peter, adding âIt made one immensely proudâ. It was signed âDenise Pattersonâ and underneath in brackets were the letters âD.M.W.â
In 1940, Denise Maxwell Woosnam had been engaged to Peter Pease. Richard Hillary called her 'the most beautiful person I have ever seen.â She had been watching me describe her fiancé on TV sixty five years later.