Last Battle of Britain fighter pilot ace dies aged 101

Wing Commander Farnes shot down six enemy aircraft

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The last surviving fighter pilot ace who fought against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain during World War Two has died.

Wing Commander Paul Farnes was among the 3,000 airmen who defended the skies above southern England for three-and-a-half months in 1940.

The group are remembered as The Few, after a speech by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who said of their sacrifices: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

W/Cdr Farnes took down six enemy aircraft, making him an “ace”, which is a term used for any fighter pilot credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft.

He also earned a Distinguished Flying Medal for his Battle of Britain victories.

(L-R) Flying Officer Ken Wilkinson, pilot Geoffrey Wellum, Squadron Leader Tony Pickering, Wing Commander Paul Farnes and Spitfire fitter Sergeant Stan Hartill marking the 75th anniversary of the battle.

The “generous” veteran, from West Sussex, died peacefully at his home this morning, aged 101, the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust said.

The trust said he was the last member of The Few who was fit enough to be able to attend the aerial conflict's memorial day last year, where he had “proudly” represented his RAF colleagues.

The service of commemoration took place just a week before his 101st birthday in July.

In a tribute to W/Cdr Farnes, the trust said: “A tall, distinguished man with striking silver grey hair that he retained throughout his life, Paul Farnes was known for plain speaking but was generous with his time in support of trust activities.”

There are now thought to be only two surviving members of The Few - Flight Lieutenant William Clark and Flying Officer John Hemingway, both aged 100.

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