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William Walker, Oldest Surviving Battle of Britain Pilot, Dies Aged 99 (PICTURES)

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LIEUTENANT WILLIAM WALKER
Flt Lt William Walker with Dame Vera Lynn | PA

The oldest surviving Battle of Britain pilot, who was shot down in his Spitfire and wounded in 1940, 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.

Born in August 1913, Mr Walker joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in September 1938 at Kidlington, Oxford, and flew his first solo there a few days later. He was called up for full-time service close to the beginning of the war on 1 September 1939.

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Walker meeting with Prince Charles

After being commissioned and posted directly to 616 Squadron at Leconfield the next year, Mr Walker was shot down engaging German bombers over the Channel.

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.

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Mr Walker with a Spitfire aircraft outside the National Gallery, London

In later life, Mr Walker enjoyed recounting the story of how, as the surgeon prised the armour-piercing bullet from his ankle during his stay at the RAF Hospital in Halton, it shot out and hit the ceiling. He kept the bullet as a souvenir.

He began his business career before the war in 1931 as a pupil brewer at the Aylesbury Brewery, learning brewing, malting, bottling and cooperage.

Two years later, he joined Ind Coope's brewery in Burton and after the war rose to become its chairman.

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.

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Mr Walker talking with the Duchess of Cornwall

Richard Hunting CBE, chairman of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, 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 to The Few.

"He was much loved by his fellow veterans, his family and friends and all of us at the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust.

"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."