William Walker, a Battle of Britain Royal Air Force pilot and one of the last of the few, has died aged 99. I was lucky enough to meet William on several occasions, lastly two years ago in September 2010 when I interviewed him for The Daily Telegraph to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the battle. Then he backed a call by the Officer Commanding the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Ian Smith, who said that Battle of Britain day should be a time to reflect on all those who lost their lives in the conflict, not just the British pilots. It was controversial call but a typically brave statement from a man who always had respect for all those pilots who put their lives on the line.
“It’s time to commemorate all the pilots who took part in the conflict. Unlike us many German pilots had already seen a lot of action over Poland and France. In contrast I was a complete rookie and went into action in June 1940 after just five hours training.” William told me. Two months later he was shot down over Dover by the Luftwaffe ace Werner Mölders.
Sqn Ldr Smith also paid tribute to him. “I knew William well and loved him dearly. I’m sure he’d agree with me that he is lucky to be alive. In fact getting shot down probably saved his life. Mölders fired up through the bottom of the cockpit, missing the armour plating and the bullet went straight into his ankle. William was wounded but lived to fight another day. In contrast Mölders was killed a year later. We need to celebrate the lives of both.”
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