AN AUTOGRAPH book containing signatures from RAF officers who took part in the Battle of Britain is to be sold at Stroud Auction Rooms.

Described by Winston Churchill as "not a book of names, but a book of heroes", the book is to be included in Stroud Auction Rooms' November auction.

When it last came up for auction, at Bonhams in Oxford in 2011, it sold for £33,600.

The book was signed by 107 pilots at RAF Martlesham Heath, in Suffolk, in 1941.

The signatures were compiled by mess steward Norman Phillips after the officers had returned from duty and were relaxing in the officers' mess.

The book's leather cover is said to have been cut from one of the mess chairs by World War II flying ace Douglas Bader, in order to protect it.

Group Captain Bader, who flew in the Battle of Britain despite losing both his legs in a flying accident in 1931, inspired the film, Reach for the Sky.

Churchill, in conversation with Gp Capt Bader about the book, is said to have remarked: "God forbid it should ever be lost."

The book also contains signatures from American volunteers as well as Canadian, Australian, Polish and Czech pilots.

Squadrons whose members who have signed the book include 242, 17, 71, 605, 257, 266, 613, No. 3, 73, 56, 310 and 402.

Over 20 of the pilots who have signed the book were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), six of these being awarded a bar and one a double bar.

Although the signatures were obtained in 1941, after the Battle of Britain many of the pilots were active during the battle and some gained DFCs during this period.