One of the last surviving "map plotters" of the Battle of Britain, Joan Fanshawe, has died in New Zealand.

Fanshawe, who was 98, was visiting her two daughters in Auckland and took ill while baking a Christmas cake. She later died in hospital.

Fanshawe, whose maiden name was Moxon, joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force at 19 on the declaration of World War II, abandoning plans to study for a social work degree. She enlisted out of a sense of duty, saying that since her father had no sons to volunteer, she would do it instead.

Joan Fanshawe arrives on the red carpet for the world premiere of Spitfire. Photo / Getty Images
Joan Fanshawe arrives on the red carpet for the world premiere of Spitfire. Photo / Getty Images

She was on WAAF duty on September 15, 1940 - the day the Battle of Britain came to a head with 1500 aircraft fighting for control of the skies above London. The Royal Air Force was stretched to the limit as the German Luftwaffe pressed to gain supremacy in the air.

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One of 10 special duty WAAF staff, Fanshawe worked shifts in the operations room at RAF Uxbridge in West London.

Their role was to pinpoint both RAF and enemy aircraft positions using flagged blocks and arrows on a huge plotting table and grid reference map of southern England.

It was there that Britain's wartime leader Winston Churchill famously asked New Zealander Air Vice Marshall Keith Park about committing his reserve aircraft: "How many more have you got?".

Joan Fanshawe in her Women's Auxiliary Air Force uniform. Photo / supplied.
Joan Fanshawe in her Women's Auxiliary Air Force uniform. Photo / supplied.

Park replied: "None".

Park was in charge of the Uxbridge setup.

Witnesses of the event suggested that Churchill's response to news of the lack of additional aircraft was "quite grave".

Despite the visit from the British Prime Minister, Fanshawe noted in her diary that she was "rather annoyed" the commander-in-chief's visit had extended her shift by an hour.

In the last decade she became quite a celebrity in Britain given her role in the war and was an honoured guest this year at the RAF's centenary celebrations in London. Three years earlier she gave a reading at the Westminster Abbey Battle of Britain Day service.

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Earlier this year she attended the premiere of British documentary Spitfire, which commemorated the men, women and aircraft involved in the victory in the Battle of Britain.

As one of the last surviving map plotters, she also appeared in a number of documentaries about the war.

Her funeral, attended by about 60 people, was held yesterday in Manurewa at the St Elizabeth Anglican Church

WAAF plotters at work in the Operations Room at No. 11 Group HQ at Uxbridge in Middlesex, 1942.
WAAF plotters at work in the Operations Room at No. 11 Group HQ at Uxbridge in Middlesex, 1942.

Fanshawe's ashes are to be returned to Britain where they will be interred in her local Anglican church's cemetery in Stroud, Hampshire.

A regular visitor to New Zealand over the past 18 years, Fanshawe is survived by her son, Lionel, who lives in Stroud, Hampshire, and her Auckland-based daughters, Althea and Dionys.