Birmingham & Black Country

Battle of Britain pilot Kenneth Wilkinson dies aged 99

Ken Wilkinson with Prince William Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kenneth Wilkinson met Prince William during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain

A Battle of Britain pilot who once told off the Duke of Cambridge for "flying choppers" has died at the age of 99.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust said it was with great sadness that it announced the death of Flying Officer Kenneth Astill Wilkinson AE.

Mr Wilkinson, of Solihull, West Midlands, was "a true gentleman", the statement added.

Battle of Britain pilots were dubbed "the few" by wartime leader Winston Churchill.

Mr Wilkinson once told off Prince William for "flying choppers instead of proper aeroplanes".

The light-hearted comments came during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2015.


Kenneth Astill Wilkinson

  • Born 29 June 1918, Barrow-in-Furness
  • Educated at Cheltenham Grammar School
  • Called up 1 September 1939
  • Completed flying training and converted to spitfires joining 616 Squadron and then 19 Squadron in October 1940.
  • Left RAF in 1945
  • Became a quantity surveyor with one of his projects being Birmingham New Street station

Source: Battle of Britain Memorial Trust


Mr Wilkinson leaves a daughter, Penny, and a grandson, Piers.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust said he had been an active member of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association (BBFA).

"We shall miss him dearly," it added.

Image copyright The Wilkinson family
Image caption Mr Wilkinson was one of the pilots dubbed "the few" by Winston Churchill

Retired group captain Patrick Tootal said Mr Wilkinson was "one of the first to join the BBFA in 1958".

"It was for all the navigators and pilots. He was one of the most junior members having joined us later on in the war," he added.

"He always had a twinkle in his eye, and he liked a glass of red wine. We would always have a joke about it."

He said there were ten members left in the association, ranging from the age of 95 to 99.

The Battle of Britain has become known as a turning point for Britain during World War Two when, in 1940, Germany launched an attack on Britain's air defences. The RAF withstood the attack and Germany called off its invasion plans.

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