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Richard Hillary (1919-1943), Spitfire pilot; author of 'The Last Enemy'

Sitter in 1 portrait
Born in Sydney, Australia, he was educated in Britain. He joined the University Air Squadron at Oxford in 1938, and was called up in October 1939 before completing his degree. In 1940 he was posted to Montrose to B Flight 603 Squadron flying Spitfires. Sent south to Hornchurch, Hillary took part in the Battle of Britain. Shot down uninjured, he returned to duty and in the space of a week destroyed five enemy planes. On 3 September he baled out of his burning Spitfire and underwent extensive plastic surgery under the care of Sir Archibald McIndoe at East Grinstead. He related his experiences in The Last Enemy (1942). He returned to active service but was killed in a night-flying exercise accident.

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Richard Hillary

by Eric Henri Kennington
pastel, 1942
NPG 5167