Battle of Britain’s forgotten ‘Few’: a brave naval aviator

The tragic tale of Fleet Air Arm pilot Arthur Blake, who fought in the RAF alongside a childhood friend

When someone dies it is easy to paint their life in simplistic terms, settling for a stereotyped, clichéd precis. This is particularly so when recalling the life of a soldier, sailor or airman whose existence has been cut short by war. More often than not, all trace of personality is stripped away to be replaced by a list of exploits. For Arthur Blake, a young naval fighter pilot who was seconded to the RAF in June 1940, this is especially so, as records reveal:

“Born in 1917, joined the Royal Navy in 1939. Completed pilot training in mid-1940, joined 19 Squadron at Duxford. Probably shot down an ME 110 [sic] on 3rd September, destroyed an He 111 on 9th September 1940, a Bf 109 and shared an He 111 on the 15th and two Bf 109s two days later. Shot down and killed on 29th October 1940 in Spitfire No. P7423. Buried in St Mary’s churchyard, Langley, Slough.”


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