Another of the Few leaves us

Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC*, AFC, one of the last of the Few and a regular visitor to the Battle of Britain Memorial in recent years, has died.

Wing Cdr Neil, who died on Wednesday evening (11 July), just three days before his 98th birthday, flew Hurricanes with No 249 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain.

A pre-war member of the RAFVR, he is credited with having destroyed more than 17 enemy aircraft, most of them during the Battle. He went on to see further action in Malta with No 249 Squadron.

Wing Cdr Neil returned to the UK to fly Spitfires over the Channel and elsewhere during 1943. Attached to the American 9th Air Force in 1944, he took part in the invasion of Normandy and remained with the USAAF until the Allies reached the German border. He later saw action in Burma.

After the war, Wing Cdr Neil spent four years as a service test pilot. He has flown more than 100 types of aircraft.

Wing Cdr Neil leaves three married sons, Terence, Patrick and Ian. His wife Eileen died in 2014. He will be much missed by the Trustees, staff and volunteers at the Battle of Britain Memorial.

A private cremation is expected to be followed by a later memorial service for Wing Cdr Neil and his late wife.




45 thoughts on “Another of the Few leaves us

    It is with sadness that I read of Wing Cmdr Tom Neil’s passing I was very fortunate to have know Tom for the past 14 years and shared the enjoyment of listening to the great boy of Jussi Bjorling I met Tom several times at Shoreham Battle of Britain museum in Kent where I’m sure Geoff Nutkins will be devestated to hear of Tom’s passing
    Tom as always a pleasure to talk to and was great with everybody who came to the signings
    I will miss him as I do all the veterans that I have met and who are now in the great crew room in the sky recall g former days with their comrades.
    I will raise a glass of malt (he enjoyed his malt) in his memory R. I. P. sir you will NEVER be forgotten

    So much owed , by so many to so few… God Bless you Tom… Sorry I never got to meet you . I did try. Thank you… We shall never forget… RIP Sir… ?… BLUE SKIES AND TAIL WINDS ,SAH……

    Everyone at the Shoreham Aircraft Museum send their sincere condolences to the family of Tom Neil.
    Tom was a true and faithful friend visiting us on numerous occasions over the years.
    Rest in Peace Sir.
    Your country honours you for your service.
    Geoff Nutkins & Dave Jones.

    A sad loss for sure, a fantastic ambassador, he left a great legacy for future generations through his writing. Sincere Condolences to his family. Godspeed Sir ! ??

    Old warrior, we’ll miss you. Your bravery -and your modesty- will live on as long as the immeasurable exploits of the Few are on people’s lips.

    So sad. He and his kind served magnificently for their country and for those countries freed from Nazi occupation. Their contribution is without equal in my lifetime. May he rest in peace certain in the knowledge that he will forever be an inspiration to younger men, and a fond memory for all who had the privilege to know him.

    Thank you so very much Sir for what you did to save this nation from Tyranny all those years ago and since then for being the face ‘of the few’ and making sure that the memmory of mamy were and are nevr forgotten. On your last sort to the blue sky yonder….God Speed Wg Cdr Neil

    The few are getting fewer we will never see such Bravery my so many young men again .we owe them the life we lead today and we will never forget there sacrifices RIP Sir this country has lost a true Hero

    RIP Sir the courage and selfless acts for your country will remain in our hearts for ever.

    God bless you and the many other brave men
    that fought impossible odds and won The Battle of Britain.

    RIP Tom a true hero and so young one of the few and only 7 left now I believe I salute you sir
    Peter H Tate

    All I want to say is Thank You. Thanks to you and your comrades my generation grew up in a free country. We are in your debt and will ensure that future generations know what you did for us. Rest in peace Sir.

    An inspired and inspiring gentleman. At the Chalke Valley History Festival, Tom Neil was asked if he’d had counselling after the Battle of Britain. After the laughter died down, he replied “I had enough problems with the bl…y Germans without having to deal with counselors”. RIP and thank you.

    RIP Tom Neil. He stood tall among men. Gun Button to fire is an excellent read and an insight into the bravery and the humour of this man.

    On many occasions I like so many others have enjoyed listening to you on the televisions so many of us owe the freedom we enjoy today to you and the other extraordinary brave few . Your loss will be keenly felt but your memory will live on..RIP.

    Blue skies and fair winds Sir.
    Thank you for all you did.
    We will Remember you, and your colleagues, and your names and deeds will live on in history.

    Thank you Sir for all you did. You and The Few will never be forgotten. We owe you our freedom. Fly high Sir…

    What sad news, a real gentleman, excellent pilot and writer. It was good to read his books – he never forgot his fellow pilots and ground crew. Rest in a Well-earned Peace and God Speed your final journey. We honour you Sir.

    I am seeking information on a school teacher I had in Melbourne, Australia, by the name of Minogue. All I know is that he flew in WW2 in the RAAF or RAF. Does anyone where I could find info?

    You were a true hero and a true gentleman, goodbye to you Sir we all owe you and the rest of the few the lives we live today I humbly say thank you , of you go in the wide blue yonder for the last time you have permission to take of and once again thank you.

    RIP Sir

    I had the honour of meeting you on several occasions.

    You and your friends will never be forgotten

    Nick Hall
    The debt we owe you and your fellow members of ‘The Few’ can never be measured but what you and your fellow members of ‘The Few'” will live on and future generations will learn about the heroes of 1940 and those of the RAF when all that stood between defeat and invasion was ‘ The Few’ you have one last sortie before you are stood down God Speed may you rest in peace .

    Fly high into the deep blue skies, you are one with many who rolled down that strip one last time, we thank you for your time with us and all you did.

    A true gentleman who was always willing for a chat. A great writer and have all his books signed. Will be much missed. Tally Ho Sir and Thank You.

    A life ended but one that gave so much in such difficult times. Your modesty avoided the accolade of “hero” but the nation owes you so much and we will always look upon you and all of those who fought the good fight alongside you as heroes. Thank you, Sir, for what you have done for us and now that you are about to fly your last sortie may there be blue skies awaiting you with enough wind to lift you to your eternal destination. RIP

    Blue skies, Sir. Heartfelt thanks for all you did in those dark times and sincere condolences to your family.
    Per Ardua Ad Astra.

    Thank you Sir for what you did for us, I for one appreciate everything, and after reading you’re awesome book ‘Gun Button to Fire’ have a far better understanding of what you went through. God bless you. RIP

    God speed Wing Commander Neill on your final scramble. Thankyou can never be enough for what you all did for us but it will never be forgotten.

    How sad but inevitable!

    I had the pleasure of meeting Tom a number of times, including one occasion at his home in Norfolk. We consumed a few G&Ts together with his late wife and her friend Daffers. Most enjoyable. At Duxford one year, Tom fell whilst getting up from the table, and my wife Val and I saved him from falling on to the floor.

    One of the old school, one of the Few, and a perfect gentleman.

    Brian Cull
    author of ‘249 at War’, ‘249 at Malta, ‘Hurricanes over Malta’ etc

    We salute you sir.

    High Flight
    “Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air….

    Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
    And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    – Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

    John Gillespie Magee Jr.

    We will not forget this hero. I had the honour of spending a few days in his company over several years and was always amazed at his recall of fighting in the Battle of Britain and over Malta. I have left many tributes and pages regarding his life over several sites I run or contribute to. May he rest in peace. Paul Davies (Historian)

    Thank you Tom Neil for your service to your fellow human beings. You were of “The Right Stuff”. Thank you to Brian Cull, for all of your work in seeing the fighter pilots, especially Tom and all from 249 Squadron, remembered. I have read nearly all of your work and it is a credit to heroes such as Tom Neil. I will always remember his voice whenever I read his books (or yours with passages about him) Paul Davies Battle of Britain Site.

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