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New evidence for youngest Battle of Britain pilot

 

Detailed investigation has revealed that Plt Off Martyn Aurel King may have been the youngest pilot to fly in the Battle of Britain.

The research, by historian Geoff Simpson and genealogist Gladys Armstrong, has prompted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to replace the Hurricane pilot’s headstone and adjust its own records to show that he died in action at the age of 18, rather than 19.

Simpson and Armstrong tracked down King’s birth certificate, which shows he was born on 15 October 1921 and was therefore short of his 19th birthday when he was shot down on 16 August 1940 while flying with No 249 Squadron.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, which looks after the National Memorial to the Few at Capel-le-Ferne in Kent, has welcomed the new research and the CWGC’s decision. Until now, CWGC records and his gravestone at Fawley, Hampshire, described King as 19 years of age when he was killed.

Aurel King, as he was known at school, is now the youngest pilot for whom the trust has proof of his date of birth. The youngest Spitfire pilot for whom it possesses such proof is Plt Off Alexander Nelson Robin Langley Appleford, known as Robin, whose birth certificate shows he was born on 16 September 1921. Appleford, who flew in the battle with No 66 Squadron and No 421 Flight, died in 2012.

The news came towards the end of a busy summer for the Capel memorial, which held an act of remembrance on 10 August to mark the passing of Sqn Ldr Geoffrey Wellum, Wg Cdr Tom Neil and Flt Lt Ronald Mackay. Its visitor centre, The Wing, remains well worthy of a visit by anyone interested in the events of that pivotal period in history. For more information see www.battleofbritainmemorial.org.

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