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Cropthorne RAF ace flew in the Battle of Britain
9:30pm Monday 28th October 2013 in News
A HEROIC Spitfire pilot who shot down four enemy aircraft in the Battle of Britain has died.
Wing Commander Brian Smith, of Cropthorne, near Evesham, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his great courage and leadership, died in September after a short illness.
The 98-year-old moved to the village 60 years ago when he worked as an area manager for J Bibby and Sons which specialised in animal feeds. He was a very popular and sociable man and was well-known at the Queen Elizabeth pub, Elmley Castle, the Gardeners Arms, Charlton, and at the New Inn, Cropthorne.
Born into the Bretherton family in Formby, Lancashire, on January 12, 1915, Mr Smith worked in the brewing industry for five years and Shell BP before fighting in the Second World War.
He was a founder member of the No 610 (County of Cheshire) Squadron in 1936 and shot down four enemy aircraft and damaged three others during the opening phase of the Battle of Britain. In a later flight his Spitfire was hit by cannon fire. He was badly burnt and had to bail out into the sea, eight miles off the coast where he was picked up by a Royal Navy trawler.
His injuries meant that he was unable to carry on in the battle.
After recovering from his burns, Mr Smith worked as a flying instructor and formed a parachute training school in southern Italy, jumping regularly with his dog Sally, who had her own parachute.
He left the RAF in February 1946 and, after working for J Bibby and Sons, he became a flying instructor in Kidlington, Oxford.
Mr Smith was also well known for running a taxi company out of the former Abbey Garage, Pershore, and working in Coryphee, a fashion shop in Broadway with his late wife Pamela, a former member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).
Pamela died in 2002 and he was also predeceased by one son. He leaves behind sons Jerome and Tim, two grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.
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