The Second World War’s youngest Spitfire pilot who joined the RAF at just 18 and said his life ‘peaked’ at 21 after helping win the Battle of Britain has died just two weeks before his 97th birthday.
Geoffrey Wellum, who was given the nickname ‘Boy’ as he signed up in August 1939, died at his home in Cornwall on Wednesday evening.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust revealed his death today and Mr Wellum was one of just eight surviving members.
One of the last remaining ‘Few’, the decorated airman was approaching his 97th birthday, and his extraordinary life and bravery was the subject of books and even a BBC TV drama.
Showing no fear despite the average four-week life expectancy of war pilots, he was sent up to fight the Nazis in his teens and described how ahead of his first air battle he was told to jump in his Spitfire and warned: ‘Break it there will be bloody hell to pay’.
He would later become a squadron leader and served on the front line including the Battle of Britain ‘dogfights’ above London and the Home Counties before taking the fight into Europe where he led the air battle to free Malta.
But on the way to victory he lost many of his closest comrades from the RAF and said recently: ‘You just had to accept it, get on with living and remember absent friends’.