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Thursday, 9 August 2018

Farewell to another of The Few: Spitfire pilot, 101, becomes the third of the last surviving Battle of Britain heroes to die in a month leaving just eight behind

  • Flt Lt Ronald Mackay was born in 1917 and flew Spitfires for No 234 Squadron 
  • During WWII, following a sortie, he was seriously injured and had to bale out  
  • RAF hero Mackay, aged 101, was one of the remaining nine members of 'The Few'
  • He died less than a month after two fellow Battle of Britain veterans passed away
One of the last surviving Battle of Britain veterans, whose courage and bravery under fire helped save Britain from Nazi tyranny, has died aged 101. 
Tributes have poured in for Flight Lieutenant Ronald Mackay, who flew Spitfires with No 234 Squadron and helped protect Britain's skies from German bombers during the Second World War.
Flt Lt Mackay, who was once seriously injured baling out of his aircraft following a sortie, was one of the final nine remaining members of 'The Few', after the deaths of two fellow survivors in July.
Tributes have poured in for Flight Lieutenant Ronald Mackay, who flew Spitfires with No 234 Squadron and helped protect Britain's skies from German bombers during the Second World War
Tributes have poured in for Flight Lieutenant Ronald Mackay, who flew Spitfires with No 234 Squadron and helped protect Britain's skies from German bombers during the Second World War
There are now only eight remaining Battle of Britain veterans following the death of Flt Lt Mackay, Wing Commander Tom Neil and Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum - both of whom died in July.
The group of men were dubbed The Few following Winston Churchill's wartime address to Parliament, where he poignantly said of the brave RAF pilots: 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.'  
David Brocklehurst MBE, chairman of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum, said: 'Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends at this difficult time.
Our flag will be flown at half mast for the next seven days as a mark of respect.
'Sadly nature is taking its course and we have lost three of The Few in the past month.
'Now there are only eight surviving Battle of Britain veterans, the oldest is 105 and the youngest 98.
The group of men were dubbed The Few following Winston Churchill's wartime address to Parliament, where he poignantly said of the brave RAF pilots: 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much, owed by so many, to so few'
The group of men were dubbed The Few following Winston Churchill's wartime address to Parliament, where he poignantly said of the brave RAF pilots: 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much, owed by so many, to so few'
There are now only eight remaining Battle of Britain veterans following the death of Flt Lt Mackay, Wing Commander Tom Neil (pictured) and Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum - the youngest Spitfire pilot in the battle - both of whom died in July
There are now only eight remaining Battle of Britain veterans following the death of Flt Lt Mackay, Wing Commander Tom Neil (pictured) and Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum - the youngest Spitfire pilot in the battle - both of whom died in July
Wing Commander Neil was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Bar and Air Force Cross (AFC). Pictured wearing his uniform in the 1950s
Wing Commander Neil was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Bar and Air Force Cross (AFC). Pictured wearing his uniform in the 1950s
The Prince of Wales enjoys a joke with Geoffrey Wellum a veteran of the Battle of Britain - he along with Wing Commander Neil passed away in July
The Prince of Wales enjoys a joke with Geoffrey Wellum a veteran of the Battle of Britain - he along with Wing Commander Neil passed away in July

GLORIOUS FEW WHO STOOD AGAINST NAZI DOMINATION

They fought the most important battle this country ever faced and their victory saved Britain from the tyranny of Nazi Germany.
The heroes of the Battle of Britain repelled Hitler's Luftwaffe in the summer of 1940, although only a few of them are still alive.
They are:
  • Flight Lieutenant William Clark, 219 Squadron, aged 99
  • Wing Commander John Elkington, 1 Squadron, aged 97 
  • Wing Commander Paul Farnes, 501 Squadron, aged 100
  • Squadron Leader John Hart, 602 Squadron, aged 99 
  • Flying Officer John Hemmingway, 86 Squadron, aged 99
  • Flight Lieutenant William Hughes, 23 Squadron, aged 97 
  • Pilot Officer Archie McInnes, 601 Squadron, 105 
  • Flight Lieutenant Maurice Moundson, 56 Squadron, aged 100
At the time were in their late teens or early 20s when they took to the skies in Spitfires and Hurricanes from July to October 1940. 
Others flew in Blenheims, Beaufighters and Defiants, becoming the 'aces' of the Battle, shooting down plane after plane. 
When it was over, 544 RAF pilots and aircrew were dead and had made the ultimate sacrifice to keep generations of Britons safe'He should be remembered for his bravery. Many of them said they were not heroes, just doing their duty, but we see them all as heroes.
'It makes it all the more important that we carry on their legacy as there will be a time when they will no longer be able to do so.'
Group Captain Patrick Tootal OBE, Honorary Secretary of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, said: 'The loss of one of the Few is very sad. In the past weeks we have lost three.'
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, Tweeted: 'Very sad to hear that another of The Few is lost to us - Flt Lt Ronald MacKay, Spitfire pilot with 234 Sqn during the Battle of Britain.'
Flt Lt Ronald Mackay was born in 1917 and served in the Auxiliary Air Force before the war.
He was called to full time service in late August 1939, joining 603 Squadron as a civilian pupil pilot the following month.
After elementary training in Perth, central Scotland, he was commissioned on March 23, 1940, before completing his intermediate and advanced flying training at RAF Lossiemouth, north Scotland.
Flt Lt Mackay joined No 234 Squadron at RAF Middle Wallop, Hampshire, on September 18, 1940.
Returning from St Eval after a routine sortie on September 25, 1940, he baled out and was seriously injured.
His Spitfire, X4182, crashed near St Mawgan in north Cornwall.
After being released from the RAF in January 1946, he ran the family travel business in Scotland for many years. 
He died surrounded by his family in Edinburgh on Saturday, August 4. 
The remaining surviving members of The Few are Flight Lieutenant William Clark, 219 Squadron; Wing Commander John Elkington, 1 Squadron; Wing Commander Paul Farnes, 501 Squadron; Squadron Leader John Hart, 602 Squadron; Flying Officer John Hemmingway, 86 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant William Hughes, 23 Squadron; Pilot Officer Archie McInnes, 601 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Maurice Moundson, 56 Squadron. 

Never was so much owed by so many to so few: Churchill’s enduring tribute to the Battle of Britain heroes 

Former PM Winston Churchill
Former PM Winston Churchill
The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and b~ their devotion. 
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. 
All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power. 
On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than on the daylight bombers, who will play an invaluable part in the case of invasion and whose unflinching zeal it has been necessary in the meanwhile on numerous occasions to restrain.

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