Hundreds of mourners have attended the funeral of one of the last remaining Battle of Britain pilots.Former Spitfire pilot Kenneth Wilkinson died in July at the age of 99. Several roads around St Alphege Church in Solihull were closed for the service and there was a flypast by a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire.The pilots were dubbed “the few” by wartime leader Winston Churchill for their role in helping thwart Hitler’s invasion plans.More updates on this and other stories from Birmingham and the Black CountryAnnouncing Mr Wilkinson’s death in July, the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust said he was “a true gentleman”.
Mr Wilkinson, from Solihull, once told off the Duke of Cambridge for “flying choppers instead of proper aeroplanes”.His comments came during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2015.Almost 3,000 British and Allied airmen flew in the battle and more than 540 lost their lives. A further 800 died before the end of the war in 1945. There are only 10 surviving pilots who served with Fighter Command in the battle in 1940, the RAF said.
Kenneth Astill WilkinsonBorn 29 June 1918, in Barrow-in-Furness
Educated at Cheltenham Grammar School
Called up on 1 September 1939
Completed flying training and converted to Spitfires joining 616 Squadron and then 19 Squadron in October 1940
Left the RAF in 1945
Became a quantity surveyor, with one of his projects being Birmingham New Street station
Source: Battle of Britain Memorial Trust
Source: BBC Black Country