One of the last surviving pilots from the Battle of Britain has died aged 101.
Following the passing of Flt Lt Maurice Mounsdon, the number of heroes left who fought in the historic air battles between the UK’s Royal Air Force and Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe has been reduced to just three.
Maurice, with 56 Squadron, was one of 3,000 men who risked their lives in a three-and-a-half month campaign, in which 544 RAF pilots and aircrew died.
At the age of 22, Maurice had already shot down four enemy aircraft in a number of dogfights.
While soaring across Colchester, the veteran recalled the moment he was hit by a cannon shell from a Messerschmitt 109. Even with horrendous burns to his arms and legs, the pilot was able flip the plane and escape.
Explaining the incident, Maurice said:
I was on fire. There was only one thing to do and that was to get out as fast as possible. I was badly burned, but I rolled the aircraft over and came down by parachute from 14,000ft. I was conscious all the time. It was the first time I’d used a parachute. I think I was jolly lucky, in a way.
The dogfights were pretty frightening. Everyone was firing at the same time. It was a matter of luck if you survived or not… but at the end of it all it was the happiest time of my life, though I lost a lot of good friends.
His nephew Adrian told the Daily Mirror: ‘He was a great man and will be missed by his nephews and nieces.’
While being treated by pioneering surgeon Archibald McIndoe following the plane escape, Maurice – originally from Lichfield, Staffs – met his future wife Mary at the hospital. He married her in 1941 and spent the rest of World War II as a flight instructor.
In the late 1970s, the couple (who never had children) moved to the Spanish island of Menorca. Mary died in 1993 and Maurice passed away on Friday, December 6.
In September last year, the veteran celebrated his 100th birthday in style in Menorca, watching the Red Arrows’ smoke trails write ‘100’ in red, blue and white over the Mediterranean in a dazzling 30-minute performance.
He told The Times:
It was a real honour for me for the Red Arrows to come to Menorca and put on this display.
RIP Flt Lt Maurice Mounsdon.
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Topics: Life, history, Second World War, veteran, World War 2, WWII