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Battle of Britain war hero pilot, 100, who is one of only seven surviving members of 'The Few' is honoured with special birthday flyover by the Red Arrows

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 20/09/2018 Sam Lock For Mailonline

Flight Lieutenant Maurice Mounsdon is one of the last surviving heroes of the glorious Few (left) Flight Lieutenant William Terence Clark (pictured) joined the Auxilliary Air Force in 1938 and was later posted to RAF Catterick as an air gunner on the Blenheim aircraft, before moving to the Beaufighter as a radio operator (right) © Daily Mail Flight Lieutenant Maurice Mounsdon is one of the last surviving heroes of the glorious Few (left) Flight Lieutenant William Terence Clark (pictured) joined the Auxilliary Air Force in 1938 and was later posted to RAF Catterick as an air gunner on the Blenheim aircraft, before moving to the Beaufighter as a radio operator (right) Flight Lieutenant Maurice Mounsdon is one of the last surviving heroes of the glorious Few, whose daring and bravery saved Britain from Nazi tyranny. 

It's been years since the Battle of Britain war hero has been back in a plane and even longer since he joined the RAF in 1040 as a 20-year-old just before the Second World War.    

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Now aged 100 - frail and unable to walk unaided - he celebrated the milestone with a nod to his military past as the Red Arrows - elite pilots from the modern age - paid tribute to the former pilot with a spectacular skyline display.

Video: Red Arrows at Rhyl Air Show 2017 (Daily Post)

Sitting in a friend's apartment on the coast of Menorca, where he has lived since his retirement, the war hero watched as nine Hawk Jets' smoke trails carved '100' in red, blue and white over the Mediterranean. 

The 30-minute performance saw jets flying at speeds of up to 360mph - a reminder of the time Mr Mounsdon served as a Hurricane pilot with 56 squadron based at RAF North Weald at the Battle of Britain had reached its height. 

'It was a real honour for me for the Red Arrows to come to Menorca and put on this display,' he told The Times.

Sitting in a friend's apartment on the coast of Menorca, where he has lived since his retirement, the war hero watched as nine Hawk Jets' smoke trails carved '100' in red, blue and white over the Mediterranean © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Sitting in a friend's apartment on the coast of Menorca, where he has lived since his retirement, the war hero watched as nine Hawk Jets' smoke trails carved '100' in red, blue and white over the Mediterranean Mr Mounsdon was shot down by a Messerschmitt Bf 109 over Colchester, but not before he had made two confirmed kills of German bombers and fighters, two probable kills and damaged two other fighters. 

'I was badly burnt but I rolled the aircraft over and came down by parachute from 14,000ft,' he explained.

a close up of a womans face: The 30-minute performance saw jets (pictured) flying at speeds of up to 360mph - a reminder of the time Mr Mounsdon served as a Hurricane pilot with 56 squadron based at RAF North Weald at the Battle of Britain had reached its height © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The 30-minute performance saw jets (pictured) flying at speeds of up to 360mph - a reminder of the time Mr Mounsdon served as a Hurricane pilot with 56 squadron based at RAF North Weald at the Battle of Britain had reached its height As he recovered in hospital under pioneering surgeon Archibald McIndoe, he met his future wife Mary.

'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,' he recalled. 

Of the dwindling band of men, who were part of the near 3,000-strong aircrew who served with the RAF Fighter Command between July 10 and October 31 1940, just seven surviving members of The Few and five members of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association remain.

a fighter jet flying through the air on a cloudy day: Nearly 3,000 aircrew served with the RAF Fighter Command between July 10 and October 31 1940. Many were teenagers when they climbed into the cockpit and at the time the average life expectancy for British pilots was just four weeks © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Nearly 3,000 aircrew served with the RAF Fighter Command between July 10 and October 31 1940. Many were teenagers when they climbed into the cockpit and at the time the average life expectancy for British pilots was just four weeks Many of the men were still teenagers or in their early 20s when they repelled Hitler's Luftwaffe in what may be the most important battle this country has ever fought.   

The average life expectancy for British pilots at the time of the battle was just four weeks. 

Five members of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association are believed to remain, most of which are just shy of age 100. 

They include Wing Commander John 'Tim' Francis Durham Elkington, 97, who served in the RAF for 36 years. During the Battle of Britain he destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf 109, a Junkers Ju 88, and aided in bringing down a Dornier Do 215 bomber.

Wing Commander Paul Caswell Farnes, 100, who often talked of his love of flying, saying he joined the air force specifically to fly. 'To be able to fly several times a day, every day, in one of the finest airplanes going, we thought was good,' he said in an interview in 2015.

a small airplane flying high up in the air: The Battle of Britain was crucial in preventing a Nazi invasion. Pictured: RAF De Havilland Chipmunk's © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The Battle of Britain was crucial in preventing a Nazi invasion. Pictured: RAF De Havilland Chipmunk's Flight Lieutenant William Terence Clark, 99, joined the Auxilliary Air Force in 1938 and was later posted to RAF Catterick as an air gunner on the Blenheim aircraft, before moving to the Beaufighter as a radio operator.   

Flight Lieutenant William Robert Kent Hughes, 97, served in 23 Squadron during the Battle of Britain and went on to serve in Egypt where he completed two tours.

Three of the pilots, Flight Flight Lieutenant Ron Smyth, 96, Squadron Leader Stuart Nigel Rose, 99, and Flight Lieutenant Philip Anthony Loweth, 96, have died in the last year.

Hurricane pilot Mr Loweth, of Exeter, died on September 7.

Mr Rose passed away on September 10 and was laid to rest in his home town of Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire.

To mark his burial a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed three flypasts over St Eignon Church.

Mr Smyth, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, died at his home in Shrewsbury on October 26. 



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