Paul Farnes, the last Battle of Britain flying ace, dies aged 101

Wing Commander Paul Farnes (second from left)
Wing Commander Paul Farnes (second from left) Copyright @RoyalAirForce
By Alice Tidey
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Farnes was known as a flying ace for shooting down more than five enemy planes during the battle to protect Great Britain from Nazi air raids.


Paul Farnes, the last surviving flying ace who fought during the Battle of Britain, has died at the age of 101.

Wing Commander Farnes was among the nearly 3,000 allied pilots who took to the skies from July to September 1940 to defend Great Britain from German air raids after the fall of France.

These pilots were collectively known as "The Few" after the speech from Prime Minister Winston Churchill in which he said that "never, in the field of human conflict, was so much owed by so many to so few".

Farnes was also known as a flying ace, a military accolade given to pilots who have shot down at least five enemy planes.

During the Battle of France and the subsequent Battle of Britain, Farnes is credited with shooting down seven enemy planes solo, "sharing" two other kills and damaging at least six further planes.

Farnes was born in 1918 in Hampshire, in southern England. He joined the Royal Air Force as a reservist in 1938 and was drafted a year later when World War II broke.

The pilot received a Distinguished Flying Medal  — an honour rewarding "exceptional valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy" — for his role in the Battle of Britain. 

He later fought in Yemen, North Africa, Malta and Iraq.

Farnes spent the rest of his career as a liaison officer for training centres and retired in 1958. He died peacefully at his home on Tuesday morning, according to the Battle of Britain Memorial.

Air Chief Marshall Mike Wingston paid tribute to Farnes in a statement saying: "Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM was an extraordinary man and one of a band of exceptionally brave aviators to whom we owe our freedom today."

"On behalf of the Royal Air Force, I offer Paul's family and beloved friends our sincere condolences — lest we forget," he added.

The Battle of Britain Memorial, of which Farnes was a supporter and trustee, paid tribute to the late pilot by flying its ensign at half-mast.

He leaves a daughter, Linda, and a son, Jonathan. Another son, Nicholas, died in 1954.

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