Flight Lieutenant Maurice Moundson has passed away at the age 101. As an RAF fighter pilot flying a multi-machine gun armed Hawker Hurricane in the World War II “Battle of Britain” in 1940, he had a probable “kill” when he destroyed a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber. He later shot down two Messerschmitt Me 110 twin engine fighters and had a “probable” with a single engine Messerschimitt Me 109 fighter. In early July 1940, before the Battle of Britain had really started, he also had a share in the shooting down of a Dornier Do 17 bomber.

Flt Lt Moundson’s luck finally ran out on 31 August 1940 at the height of the campaign. He was a pilot of 56 Squadron flying out of North Weald in Essex when, during an interception of a German bombing raid, a German Messerschmitt escort fighter’s powerful 20 mm cannon shell struck and exploded in his Hawker Hurricane’s petrol tank at Angels One-Four (14,000 feet) over Colchester, Essex, England. Maurice Moundson managed to escape his flaming aircraft by bailing out to parachute down to Earth but suffered extensive burns to his hands and legs as he did so. His injuries prevented him flying on further war operations even after he received mainly successful plastic surgery. However, Maurice Moundson continued flying, serving out the rest of the war as an RAF flying instructor.

As the war ended, Flt Lt Moundson was posted to 8303 Disarmament Wing, searching Germany for advanced weaponry such as jets and rockets including the German A4 (V-2) rocket technology.  After the war he went back to his previous engineering profession at the General Electric Company.

Maurice Moundon in his Hawker Hurricane cockpit in 1940. Courtesy: RAF via BBC

We give Maurice Mounsdon our salute for his skill and bravery, and we give our best wishes to his surviving friends and family.

Finest Hour Final Note: World War II had many brave and skilled sailors and submariners, soldiers, secret agents and tank crews, bomber, glider and other pilots, nevertheless, alongside NASA’s early Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts, and 1960s Formula One racing drivers, it was RAF’s Battle of Britain pilots who have always been the main heroes of this correspondent. With Maurice Mounsdon’s passing we are sad to report that there are now only three surviving pilots from the 3,000 or so British and Allied RAF heroes (“The Few” as described by Winston Churchill) who successfully defended the UK against the Nazi German Luftwaffe in that late summer mainly honorably fought campaign of 1940.  It was a win – or rather an avoidance of loss – which kept Britain in the war and allowed the later D-Day invasion of France to take place four years later to ensure final victory.

RAF Hawker Hurricanes are shown diving this painting which also has the contrails often seen during the Battle of Britain in August and September 1940. Courtesy: RAF Museum