Battle of Britain hero Maurice Mounsdon of Lichfield dies aged 101
One of the last surviving members of The Few – the pilots who defended the country in the Battle of Britain during World War II – has died.
Flight Lieutenant Maurice Mounsdon, originally from Lichfield, died on Friday aged 101, family members said.
"He was a great man and will be missed by his nephews and nieces," his nephew Adrian Mounsdon is reported to have said.
The former airman famously managed to parachute to safety after being shot down in the Battle of Britain, suffering severe burns, despite never having used a parachute before.
His death leaves only three remaining members of The Few, the 3,000 airmen who fought off the Luftwaffe in the skies above southern England over three-and-a-half months in 1940.
The surviving trio are Flt Lt William Clark, 100, Wing Commander Paul Farnes, 101, and Flying Officer John Hemingway, 100.
Mr Mounsdon was honoured on his 100th birthday in September last year with a flyover by the Red Arrows off the coast of the Spanish island of Menorca, where he had lived since the late 1970s since retiring there with his wife Mary, who died in 1993.
The Battle of Britain claimed the lives of 544 RAF pilots and aircrew in just three and a half months.
Mr Mounsdon, with 56 Squadron, nearly became one of that number in the August when his Hawker Hurricane took off from RAF North Weald in Essex.
The 22-year-old had already shot down four enemy aircraft in fierce dogfights. He recalled the moment he was hit by a cannon shell from a Messerschmitt 109 while over Colchester.
Despite severe burns to his arms and legs, Maurice was able to flip his plane and bail out.
He was rescued by local people and taken to hospital, where he would meet his future wife, Mary.
Chief of the air staff at Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, said: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Flight Lieutenant Maurice Mounsdon, one the the last of 'the Few' who fought for and won our freedom during the Battle of Britain.
"His was a remarkable story, which will continue to inspire this and future generations of the Royal Air Force, his bravery and sacrifice should never be forgotten – lest we forget."
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