UK & World News
Battle Of Britain Hero William Walker Dies
A former Spitfire pilot, believed to be the oldest surviving Battle of Britain veteran, has died aged 99.
Flight Lieutenant William Walker, born in Hampstead, north London, suffered a stroke last Thursday and died in hospital on Sunday, the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust said.
He was one of "The Few" Winston Churchill famously paid tribute to during the Second World War.
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few," the wartime prime minister said in his address made at the height of the battle in 1940.
After joining the RAF Volunteer Reserve in September 1938, Mr Walker was called up for full-time service a year later and went to Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, in February 1940, from where he was commissioned and posted to 616 Squadron at Leconfield in June.
On August 26, 1940, the force was engaged with a large German bomber force, with heavy fighter escort, which had headed towards targets in England including the RAF fighter stations at Kenley and Biggin Hill.
At Kenley, Spitfires from No 616 South Yorkshire Squadron were scrambled to the Dover/Dungeness area and found themselves in a fight with Messerschmitt Bf 109s.
Mr Walker's plane was hit and badly damaged and he baled out, landing in the Channel with a bullet in his right ankle.
He clung to a shipwreck on the Goodwin Sands before being rescued by a fishing boat, transferred to an RAF launch and brought ashore at Ramsgate, where he was greeted by a large crowd and presented with a packet of cigarettes by an elderly woman.
In later life, Mr Walker enjoyed recounting the story of how the bullet - which he kept as a souvenir - shot out and hit the ceiling as it was prised from the wound by a surgeon at the RAF Hospital in Halton.
Mr Walker attended numerous events with and on behalf of The Few, including the 2012 Memorial Day at Capel-le-Ferne.
He donated the proceeds from his book of poetry to the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust's appeal to raise money for The Wing, its new visitor centre, and signed many copies.
Richard Hunting CBE, chairman of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, paid tribute to Mr Walker, describing him as "a warm, engaging and friendly man who always had a twinkle in his eye".
"He was much loved by his fellow veterans, his family and friends and all of us at the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust," said Mr Hunting.
"He knew how important it was that we continue to tell the story of what he and the rest of The Few did in 1940."