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Flying high: war hero's touching tribute to Battle of Britain 'true professionals'

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Heroic: John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway (second left) with the airmen who fought the Battle of Britain

Heroic: John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway (second left) with the airmen who fought the Battle of Britain

John 'Paddy' Hemingway

John 'Paddy' Hemingway

Heroic: John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway (second left) with the airmen who fought the Battle of Britain

The last surviving member of 'The Few' - the airmen who won the Battle of Britain - has praised the "true professionals" who helped the country to prevail against Germany in 1940.

Group Captain John 'Paddy' Hemingway is now 101, and regards himself as "a lucky Irishman", having survived multiple dog fights during the war.

Born in Dublin on July 17, 1919, he was granted an RAF short service commission on March 7, 1939, and posted to 85 Squadron in Debden, Essex, flying Hurricane aeroplanes, staying with them throughout the Battle of Britain.

During the war he destroyed or severely damaged seven enemy aircraft and was shot down himself several times.

On April 11, 1941 he was mentioned in dispatches, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on July 1, 1941.

Cpt Hemingway spent time in 1942 at an offensive radar station, but returned to operational duties in 1945, taking command of a spitfire squadron in Italy.

After the war he stayed in the RAF and retired in 1969 as a Group Captain.

He now lives in Wicklow, in Ireland, where he recently celebrated his 101st birthday.

Cpt Hemingway says he feels "privileged to have met so many amazing young men and pilots" throughout his life.

Belfast Telegraph