William Walker, oldest surviving Battle of Britain pilot, dies at 99
A BATTLE of Britain pilot who fought German bombers in the skies during the Second World War has died.
Flight lieutenant William Walker was posted to the East Yorkshire RAF base at Leconfield as part of 616 Squadron on June 28, 1940.
He defended the country from German bombers in the darkest days of the Second World War and survived being shot down off the coast.
Mr Walker was Britain's oldest surviving pilot from the battle until his death aged 99.
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Battle of Britain Memorial Trust spokesman Malcolm Triggs said: "It's very important that people don't forget.
"It was the number one battle of the last century and it stopped us being invaded.
"If the Germans had over-run England in 1940, it would have been the end – there would have been no base for the invasion of France."
Two days after Mr Walker's 27th birthday, he was ordered to attack a large group of bombers.
In a dogfight with Messerschmitt 109s, his plane was hit and he took a bullet in the ankle.
He bailed out over the English Channel and overcame the pain, managing to swim to a shipwreck on the Goodwin Sands.
Mr Walker was picked up by a fishing boat, bleeding and suffering from hypothermia.
When he climbed out onto dry land at Ramsgate, he was applauded by the watching crowd.
Mr Triggs said: "He was shot down, parachuted out and was taken into shore by a launch.
"While the veterans are here, they can tell their stories.
"They have got a few years left but it will be very sad when the last one goes."
The Battle of Britain pilots are known as The Few.
In a wartime speech after the threat of German invasion had faded, Winston Churchill paid tribute to them in a speech.
He said: "Never was so much owed by so many to so few."
And in 2010, Mr Walker met Prime Minister David Cameron and air chief marshal Sir Stephen Dalton as they voiced their thanks for what the pilots had done.
Trust chairman Richard Hunting said: "Flight lieutenant William Walker was a warm, engaging and friendly man who always had a twinkle in his eye.
"He worked hard for the trust and gave freely of his time to help with fundraising for The Wing, which is the trust's planned new building at the Capel-le-Ferne site of the national memorial.
"He was much-loved by his fellow veterans, his family and friends and all of us at the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust."
Mr Walker was a keen poet in his later years.
His poems The Wall and Absent Friends recall the people who were lost in fighting.
Mr Hunting said: "He was regularly prevailed upon to recite one of his poems at trust events and signed many copies of his book to help raise money for The Wing.
"He knew how important it was that we continued to tell the story of what he and the rest of The Few did in 1940."
Visit www.battleofbritainmemorial.org to find out more about the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust.