Sad death of Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM

One of the last of the Few, Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM, died peacefully on Tuesday morning (28 Jan) at the age of 101.

A huge supporter of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and well known to Trustees, staff and many of the volunteers at Capel-le-Ferne, Paul was the last member of the Few who was fit enough to attend the annual Memorial Day and proudly represented his RAF colleagues at this year’s Service of Commemoration just over a week before his 101st birthday on 16 July.

A tall, distinguished man with striking silver grey hair that he retained throughout his life, Paul Farnes was known for plain speaking but was generous with his time in support of Trust activities.

He was also very proud of the DFM he was awarded as a Sergeant Pilot, declaring in a recent interview that he “wouldn’t swap it for two DFCs”.

After joining the RAFVR in 1938 he took the opportunity In July 1939 of spending six months with the regular RAF before converting to Hurricanes and joining No 501 Squadron on 14 September, moving with the squadron to Bétheniville in France on 10 May 1940.

His score during the Battle of France was one enemy aircraft destroyed, one possibly destroyed and two shared, but that was just a curtain raiser to his impressive tally in the Battle of Britain that followed.

On 12 August 1940 he claimed a Ju 87 destroyed, on the 15th two more, on the 18th a Do 17, on the 28th a Bf 109 and on the 30th a He 111 damaged. He damaged two Bf 109s on 2 September and a Bf 110 on 3 September, damaged Do 17s on the 14th and 27th, destroyed a Ju 88 on the 30th and got probable Bf 109s on 29 October and 8 November – just after the official end of the Battle.

It was a remarkable tally – six destroyed, one probably destroyed and six damaged within the timeframe of the Battle of Britain – and saw him awarded the DFM on 22 October.

After being commissioned, Farnes served as an instructor and fought in Malta with No 229 Squadron as well as serving in North Africa and Iraq. As the war ended, he was in command of two squadrons in the UK.

Remaining in the RAF until 1958, he retired as a Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Wing Commander.

He lived north east of Chichester in West Sussex and leaves a daughter, Linda, and son Jonathan. Another son, Nicholas, died in 1954.

Farnes MD

At Memorial Day 2019


19 thoughts on “Sad death of Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM

    Very sad to hear this, I met him at Capel le Fern one year and later at Shoreham Battle of Britain museum he was, as they all were great to talk to. He will be sadly missed

    RIP Sir. Your duty now complete, and you can now stand down. You are now up there flying with your comrades in arms, who also gave their lives for Queen and Country.

    He would not let me call him a hero, for saving the people of Britain from the horror of concentration camps, execution squads and slavery, preferring that accolade for his fallen colleagues of the Battle of Britain in 1940, however, along with these men who were sacrificed, so that others would live in freedom, he will always be my hero. I met him many times and will never forget him, or The Few. My condolences to Linda and his family. Paul Davies, Aviation Historian.

    Very sad news to hear about the passing of Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM. Like his comrades in arms, he was most definitely a man of great courage, integrity and character, who was prepared to put his life on-the-line, against great odds too, for his friends, family and country. May he rest in peace. Per Ardua ad Astra.

    we was very lucky to meet mr farnes in the last couple of years and he was a great man to talk too.
    we will miss mr farnes but remember him and his fellow pilots who without their heroism the world would be a darker place today.
    my last words to mr farnes, in 2019, was that ” we hope to see you next year ” and he replied “I hope so too”

    My father, Bill Wilkinson, was also a sergeant pilot in 501 squadron and flew Hurricanes in France and in the Battle of Britain. We owe these men so much. RIP Wing Commander Barnes.

    Thank you for your service and love of country during a perilous time. You and your fellow airmen helped save the free world. My father was RAF in WWII, and my son is a Lt Colonel in the USAF. Freedom is not free. Never forget.

    All too soon these great men are leaving us, I hate hearing of the passing of yet another brave but modest hero, and they would be the last to accept that much deserved title, as it further pushes their exploits into the annals of history, exploits that today’s generation seem all to happy to forget.
    RIP, sir. For the sacrifices all of our fighter pilots and Bomber boys made I will be forever in their debt.

    Wing Commander Farnes – a true hero
    Oh you have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    To dance the skies on laughter silvered wings

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