Last surviving Battle of Britain 'ace' fighter pilot dies aged 101

Wing commander Paul Farnes was among the 3,000 airmen, known as The Few,who fought during the Second World War.Photo courtesy of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust
Wing commander Paul Farnes was among the 3,000 airmen, known as The Few,who fought during the Second World War.Photo courtesy of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust

One of the last surviving Battle of Britain pilots, who spent much of his life living in West Sussex, has died aged 101.

Wing commander Paul Farnes was one of 3,000 airmen, known as The Few, who fought during the Second World War. Before his death, he was the last surviving 'ace' — a fighter pilot credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft.

His battle victories made Wing Cdr Farnes an ace  afighter pilot credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft.

His battle victories made Wing Cdr Farnes an ace afighter pilot credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft.

After moving from his home in Halnaker, Wing Cdr Farnes, who also lived in Worthing and Tangmere, spent the last few weeks of his life at a care home in Hampshire where he died peacefully on Tuesday morning (January 28), the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust said.

A spokesman for the trust said: "A huge supporter of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and well known to trustees, staff and many of the volunteers at Capel-le-Ferne, Paul was the last member of the Few who was fit enough to attend the annual Memorial Day and proudly represented his RAF colleagues at this year’s Service of Commemoration just over a week before his 101st birthday on July 16."

Paying tribute, the trust described him as a distinguished man, known for plain speaking but was generous with his time in support of trust activities.

The spokesman added: "He was also very proud of the DFM he was awarded as a Sergeant Pilot, declaring in a recent interview that he 'wouldn’t swap it for two DFCs'."

After joining the RAFVR in 1938, the trust said Wing Cdr Farnes spent six months in July 1939 with the regular RAF before converting to Hurricanes and joining No 501 Squadron in September, and moving with the squadron to Bétheniville in France in May 1940.

His battle victories made Wing Cdr Farnes an ace

"His score during the Battle of France was one enemy aircraft destroyed, one possibly destroyed and two shared, but that was just a curtain raiser to his impressive tally in the Battle of Britain that followed," the spokesperson continued.

The trust said the 'remarkable tally' saw him awarded the DFM on October 22.

After being commissioned, Farnes served as an instructor and fought in Malta with No 229 Squadron as well as serving in North Africa and Iraq, the trust said.

"As the war ended, he was in command of two squadrons in the UK," it continued. "Remaining in the RAF until 1958, he retired as a Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Wing Commander.

"He lived in Chichester in West Sussex and leaves a daughter, Linda, and son Jonathan. Another son, Nicholas, died in 1954."