Norfolk Battle of Britain ace Tom 'Ginger' Neil dies


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One of the last living Battle of Britain aces Tom “Ginger” Neil has died at the age of 97.

Wing Commander Neil, who lived in Thwaite St Mary, near Bungay, flew more than 140 missions and shot down 14 enemy planes during the Second World War.

He died peacefully on Wednesday, a few days before his 98th birthday.

Wing Commander Neil flew Hurricanes and Spitfires during his service between 1938 and 1964.

The term ace is given to a pilot who has shot down five enemy aircraft.

Wing Commander Neil outlived his wife Eileen, who died in 2014.

The pair met at Biggin Hill while she was working as a WAAF officer and they were married for more than 70 years.

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PA

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Wing Commander Neil met the Prince of Wales in September 2017

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PA

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Wing Commander Neil died peacefully on Wednesday, a few days before his 98th birthday

He leaves behind three sons.

His middle son Patrick Neil, 69, said: “I like to bracket my father with his generation.

“I think that generation were heroes because of their instinctive notion of duty and their instinctive notion of others.

“They did things as it wasn’t just about you; it was there to be done and you did it.”

He added that his father’s generation “didn’t understand the term celebrity” and had “incredible humility”.

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Wing Commander Neil served with 249 Squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar and Air Force Cross for his service

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The Wing Commander flew Hurricanes and Spitfires

Wing Commander Neil served with 249 Squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar and Air Force Cross for his service.

He spoke to the BBC just days before his death about some of the 141 combat missions he flew during those months.

And on BBC Radio 5 live’s Victoria Derbyshire programme in 2010, Wing Commander Neil explained that he regretted not performing better when he fought in the skies above England.

“I chastise myself mentally because I should have done more,” he said.

“There are times when I didn’t press home the attack as well as I ought to have done. I should have gone on longer.”



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