WWII

Battle Of Britain Hero Archie McInnes Dies Hours After 100th Birthday

The former RAF pilot flew Hurricanes during the Second World War.

Archie McInnes in July 2018 showing how he was able to take off in a Hurricane with only one arm (Pictures: Battle of Britain Memorial Flight).

A former RAF pilot who defended the United Kingdom from the Nazis in the Battle of Britain has died hours after his 100th birthday, according to a close friend and biographer. 

Archie McInnes took to the skies above southern England in 1940 during the historic battle with the German Luftwaffe, having completed his pilot training in the same year.

McInnes, who lost his left arm after being shot down by a Messerschmitt fighter plane in 1941, was one of 'The Few' remaining survivors of the Battle of Britain - of which there are now five.

His biographer and friend Jonny Cracknell made the announcement on Twitter, paying tribute to "An inspiration & hero of a man", having previously posted to celebrate the veteran's centenary. 

Also paying tribute to the Battle of Britain pilot, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, said Archie McInnes was "part of an extraordinary band of selfless aviators".

"The bravery and sacrifice of Archie and ‘The Few’ should never be forgotten," ACM Wigston continued.

Five hundred and forty-four RAF pilots and aircrew died during the events spanning from 10 July to 31 October in 1940.

One of The Few, Flight Lieutenant McInnes flew Hurricanes with 601 Squadron in Exeter, before moving to 238 Squadron in Hampshire on 8 October 1940.

After the Battle ended on 31 October, he joined the team hunting a German battleship, the Bismarck, onboard HMS Victorious.

From April 1941, McInnes provided cover for bombers as part of the North African campaign, before sustaining his serious injury later that year.

He was released by the RAF in 1946, retiring to civilian life close to Cambridge.

The last surviving members of The Few are Squadron Leader John Hart, Flight Lieutenant William Clark, Flying Officer John Hemingway, Wing Commander Paul Farnes and Flight Lieutenant Maurice Mounsdon.