Sad death of another of the Few

The Trust is saddened to announce the death of another of the Few, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC.

Sqn Ldr Wellum, a regular and popular visitor to The Battle of Britain Memorial, died at his home in Mullion, Cornwall, on Wednesday evening.

Born in Walthamstow, Essex on August 14, 1921, Sqn Ldr Wellum was approaching his 97th birthday. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in August 1939 and went to No 92 Squadron at Northolt in May, 1940.

In Feburary 1942 he was posted to No 65 Squadron at Debden as a Flight Commander. He was posted to Malta in late July and embarked on the carrier HMS Furious, later leading eight Spitfires off to Luqa, where he joined the recently formed 1435 Flight.

Sqn Ldr Wellum later became a test pilot at Gloster Aircraft, testing Typhoons, and ended the war as a gunnery instructor. He retired from the RAF in 1961 as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.

His much-acclaimed book First Light, was published in 2002 and later made into a film for BBC television.

Trust secretary Patrick Tootal said Trustees, staff and volunteers had been much saddened by the news, adding that only this week Sqn Ldr Wellum had been talking enthusiastically about attending the Memorial Service at Westminster Abbey on 16 September.

His death follows shortly after that of Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC*, AFC, who passed away last Wednesday (11 July).

Geoff Wellum

Sqn Ldr Geoffrey Wellum, pictured at the opening of The Wing in 2015. (c) Battle of Britain Memorial Trust CIO


21 thoughts on “Sad death of another of the Few

    It is with regret I read of the passing of another of THE FEW I was fortunate enough to have met and talked with Squadron Leader Wellumat Shoreham Aviation Museum. When I commented on how vivid his book First Light was, I said I felt I was in the cockpit with him when his radio went dead, he replied I wish you had been there.
    Rest In Peace Sir – you and your comrades will never be forgotten it’s time you joined them in the great crew room in the sky

    So Sad to hear of Geoffrey’s passing. I never met him but like a lot of us I have seen interviews and TV programmes. He was a real character. Blue Skies and thank you for your Service Sir. 🙏

    This modest & charming hero will be deeply missed but never forgotten. God Speed Sqn Ldr Wellum on your final scramble

    Very saddened to hear of the death of this remarkable man. An inspiration for all, especially those privileged enough to have met him. Per ardua ad astra.

    So sad to hear that the few, to whom we owe so much are getting fewer. I can’t find the right words to express my gratitude for defending our values against a ruthless enemy. Rest in peace sir, and thank you.

    One last flight home, upwards and beyond to the stars. There will be comrades waiting for you with a pint or two with your name on it.

    Take your leave secure in the affection of your countrymen.

    The debt we owe to you and your compatriots can never be repaid . You were so brave and never gave way to the challenge R.I.P. Sir the bravest of the brave a true gentleman and hero thank you for giving me the life I have led without your courage things would have been so very different . I thank you from the bottom of my heart , you are clear for take of up to to wild blue yonder .Amen

    So sad, yet proud. This was a remarkable generation of people, all of whom contributed so much to my generation, who came along as the war ended. Happy reunion to all together again, somewhere I hope.

    What sad news. I had never met him but felt as if I knew him very well. Have watched the film that was made about his experiences taken from his book First Light so many times. A perfect Gentleman and one of the brave lads who saved the Country and the World in 1940. We owe them all so much.

    Very sad to hear of his passing. We owe them so much. Fly high Sir and thank you for your service.
    Time to join your Squadron in the sky.

    Squadron Leader Wellum was quoted as saying the brave RAF pilots of the Battle of Britain didn’t want thanks, they just wanted to be remembered. Let’s do our best to ensure they are. We owe them so much.

    Geoffrey’s back up with the little clouds again now. Rest in Peace, sir. I salute you.

    You, Sir, are my hero. I had the privilege and honour to meet you on two occasions. At 69 years of age my peer group will not forget the sacrifice that your generation gave for us. RIP Sir, you will not be forgotten. My head is sad but my heart is swelling with admiration for you and your compatriots. Enjoy that last sortie across the English Channel before you take your place among the immortals.

    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 ever 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……

    RIP Geoffrey

    It’s not sad.

    I just finished reading ‘First Light’, a lucid and compelling story of how he learned to fly and fight.

    If his 20 year old self had known he’d live to
    2018, and that the RAF would rule the skies over Germany, and that a long peace would follow, he’d have been happy.

    I’ve enjoyed reading about his shear love of flight.

    But yes, thank you sir.

    Dear Guy – I completely take your point. In all these cases I think it’s sad for those of us left behind, particularly his family and close friends, rather than for the airman himself. They have certainly led long and fruitful lives.

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