THE last Battle of Britain fighter ace who shot down at least five enemies has died at 101.

Wing Commander Paul Farnes was one of the fabled 'Few' and downed at least six German aircraft and damaged another six in the 1940 conflict.

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."

Father-of-three Mr Farnes received the Distinguished Flying Medal, the highest honour for non-officers.

His battle victories made W/Cdr Farnes an ace, a term taken to mean any fighter pilot credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft.

He left the RAF in 1958 as a squadron leader.

Mr Farnes, who met Prince Charles at the Battle of Britain's 77th anniversary in 2017, died at his Hampshire home.

The Battle of Britain Memorial 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.

It said he had "proudly" represented his RAF colleagues at the service of commemoration just a week before his 101st birthday in July.

In a tribute, it 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."

In 2018, W/Cdr Farnes said: "You could never make friends during the battle because they didn't last long enough. It was nothing unusual for a chap to turn up at the squadron and be killed the same day."

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.

In 2015, W/Cdr Farnes described the "moving" moment he and his comrades were spontaneously applauded during a service at Westminster Abbey to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

W/Cdr Farnes, who flew a Hurricane during the war, said: "It was very emotional today because, when we walked out of the Abbey, the audience applauded and it's never happened before at the annual service and I was very moved by it.

"It is amazing that the Battle of Britain has caught on with the public and I am very proud to have been a part of it.

"I didn't at the time, but latterly and gradually I came to realise the importance of the Battle of Britain."

The Battle of Britain claimed the lives of 544 RAF pilots and air crew.

Mr Farnes joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1938, later joining RAF No 501 Squadron and fighting in the Battle of France in 1940.

His score during the Battle of France was one enemy aircraft destroyed, one possibly destroyed and two shared.

After the Battle of Britain, he was commissioned as an officer and served as an instructor and fought in Malta with No 229 Squadron as well as serving in North Africa and Iraq.

As the Second World War ended, he was in command of two squadrons in the UK.

Remaining in the RAF until 1958, he retired as a Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Wing Commander.

He later ran a hotel in Worthing.

He is survived by a daughter, Linda, and son, Jonathan. Another son, Nicholas, died in 1954, aged five.

Historian and Second World War Two author James Holland said: "Paul Farnes was a notable pilot – steely, resolute and most certainly never suffered fools. A forthright fellow if ever there was one! Quite a life that's for sure."

Source: Read Full Article