The last known survivor of the Battle of Britain has been reunited with the Hurricane aircraft he flew during the war.
Group Captain (retd) John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway, who turned 103 this week, was guest of honor at Irish Air Corps Veterans Day at Dublin’s Casement Aerodrome on Friday.
As part of the ceremony, the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, consisting of an Avro Lancaster bomber and a Hawker Hurricane, formed over Dublin before landing at the airfield.
Group Captain Hemingway was brought in in a wheelchair and his engines started so he could experience the sights and sounds of his World War II “office” once more.
RAF Air Marshal Sir Rich Knighton said: “Group Captain Paddy Hemingway, the last of the Few, is a true inspiration and his achievements are as relevant today as they were more than 80 years ago.
“As a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain, he protected the UK’s skies every day, just as our Typhoon pilots do today. He fought bravely to defend our values and way of life against tyranny, laying the groundwork for how we provide collective air defense through NATO to deter those who would do us harm.
“Paddy deserves our deepest gratitude for all he has done to preserve the freedoms we now enjoy.”
Born in Dublin in 1919, John Hemingway joined the RAF in 1938 and was posted to 85 Squadron in France after the outbreak of World War II.
He was credited with destroying a Heinkel He 111 bomber and a Dornier Do 17.
During the Battle of Dunkirk, she flew support missions across the English Channel, before being deployed in 1940.
In August 1940 he was forced to bail out on the Thames Estuary when his plane was shot down. He was shot again in Eastchurch, Kent just a week later.
“Today we are both proud Irish”
On July 1, 1941, Hemingway was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
He went on to take part in the planning for D-Day before flying the Spitfires in Italy.
The veteran pilot celebrated his 103rd birthday last Sunday and lives in a nursing home in Dublin.
“Today we are both proud Irishmen,” said the Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Air Corps, Brigadier General Rory O’Connor.
“Having the iconic and historic Lancaster and Hurricane flying over Ireland was very special.
“The arrival of the aircraft is a reminder that the Irish Air Corps flew through storms during the Emergency; [as WWII was officially known in Ireland].
“I was honored to host Group Captain Hemingway and be there when he was reunited with his World War II aircraft type.”
It was the first visit to Ireland by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
The aircraft will take part in the Bray Air Display in Co Wicklow at the weekend.
Last surviving Battle of Britain pilot, 103, reunited with WWII fighter | World news
Source Last surviving Battle of Britain pilot, 103, reunited with WWII fighter | World news