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Barton pilot killed in Battle of Britain remembered on 80th anniversary

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Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain (photo: © IWM CH 1508)
Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain (photo: © IWM CH 1508)

THE memory of an RAF pilot from Barton killed in action aged 20 has been honoured as this year marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

New Milton Town Council paid tribute to Pilot Officer Edward Gunter on Tuesday for Battle of Britain Day – so named because RAF Fighter Command claimed what proved to be a decisive victory over the German Luftwaffe on 15th September 1940.

Running from 10th July to 31st October 1940, this major military campaign during the Second World War resulted in many civilian and military deaths and casualties.

It saw the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy defend the UK against large-scale attacks by the Nazi air force.

Edward – known to family and friends as Paddy – was born at Holmsley on 23rd January 1920 and lived at Barton with his brothers, sister and parents.

Pilot Officer Edward Gunter
Pilot Officer Edward Gunter

His father was the Rev. W. H. Gunter, who had served at Milton Parish Church while the family lived in the area.

Having signed up to the RAF Volunteer Reserve on 17th May 1939, Edward was awarded his flying badge on 20th June 1940. He joined various squadrons before being posted to 501 at Kenley on 22nd September.

On Friday 27th September at 12.25pm, his Hurricane V 6645 aircraft was shot down, and he was killed when his parachute failed to open. The plane crashed near Teynham Court in Sittingbourne.

A town council spokesperson said: “Let’s remember all those brave pilots and RAF crews who bravely defended this country, and especially Paddy, who sacrificed his short life.”

The A&T included a report of Edward’s death in an edition published 80 years ago.

“Pilot Officer Gunter, who was only 20 years of age, had just secured his wings and joined his squadron,” the report said.

“He was killed flying a Hurricane in the fight over London.”

The write-up added his brother Charles had recently been ordained by the Bishop of London to be curate of All Hallows’ Church in Tottenham.

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