Last of the RAF’s Battle of Britain fighter aces dies – but the victory was not a wholly British effort

The Battle of Britain in 1940 was a decisive turning point in British history and we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the 3,000 Royal Air Force pilots who defended this country against a proposed German invasion.

We have just heard the news that the last of the British aces of that conflict has died aged 101. He was Paul Farnes who shot down five Luftwaffe aircraft in the Battle and more later in the war. But this is a time to remember that one-fifth of all the RAF’s pilots in the Battle of Britain were not in fact British.

There were contingents from many other Allies countries, most notably Poland and Czechoslovakia. The 88 Czech pilots included Josef Frantisek, who was the top-scoring RAF pilot of the Battle, and Karel Kuttelwascher, the father of my ex-wife. You can read more about the contribition of Czechs to the wartime RAF here.


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