Published: 15:00, 30 March 2016
| Updated: 15:30, 30 March 2016
The Few became one less as a Battle of Britain veteran pilot passed away aged 95.
Tributes have been paid to Squadron Leader Tony Pickering who was a popular figure at the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust events.
Sqn Ldr Pickering flew Hurricanes with No 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill before transferring to No 501 Squadron at Gravesend later in the battle during the summer of 1940.
He was one of the pilots to meet Her Majesty The Queen at the opening of The Wing in Capel-le-Ferne in March 2015.
Along with his wife, Chris, he attended many events organised to promote the work of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and he was an active member of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon GCB, CBE, president of the Trust, said: “He was a delight to be with and much loved and respected by us all.”
He featured in a video recalling his exploits at last November’s Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance with extreme clarity as though it was yesterday.
He was also a keen bell ringing at his parish church near Rugby in Warwickshire well into his 80s where he also served as church warden.
He joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve at Coventry in April 1939 as an airman untrained pilot and started flying training at Ansty just outside the city.
He was called up when war broke out that September and left Coventry for Hastings and Redhill before completing his flying training at Sealand in north Wales in April 1940.
At that time he was a sergeant and joined No 32 Squadron on July 27 before being posted to Gravesend.
In an action with ME 109s over Caterham on September 11, Sqn Ldr Pickering was shot down and baled out, landing unhurt in the Guards Depot.
He finished the war posted in the Middle East before returning to Britain in December 1945 before being discharged from the RAF.
Sdn Ldr Tony Garforth Pickering was born on August 25, 1920 and died on Thursday, March 24. His funeral is expected to be held at St John the Baptist parish church at Hillmorton, near Rugby, where he was a bell ringer and church warden.