Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Last surviving NZ-born Battle of Britain fighter pilot dies

Keith Ashley Lawrence passed away on June 2 aged 96 at his home in Devon, England. Photo / NZPA / Matt Appleby
Keith Ashley Lawrence passed away on June 2 aged 96 at his home in Devon, England. Photo / NZPA / Matt Appleby

One of the last surviving New Zealand-born Battle of Britain fighter pilots has died.

Keith Ashley Lawrence passed away on June 2 aged 96 at his home in Devon, England, where had lived since retiring in the mid-1980s.

A touching tribute to the Taranaki-born Second World War fighter ace has been published in The Telegraph.

It recalls Squadron Leader Lawrence flying a Spitfire and shooting down a number of German planes in 1940, including two Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters.

On November 27, 1940, Lawrence's Spitfire was badly damaged. He deployed his parachute to land in the sea, where he was rescued by a minesweeper.

After spending a year recovering from his injuries, he flew in the fierce air battles of the Battle of Malta, damaging and shooting down more German aircrafts. His heroics saw him being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

In 1945, Lawrence married Kay Harte and they had three sons and two daughters.

- NZ Herald

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