But Mr. Farnes was worried that the circumstances of his birth would be an obstacle to joining the reserve. His adoptive mother wrote a letter on his behalf to the British Air Ministry voicing his concern; she was told that if he passed all the tests, he would be welcomed.
He was. After the war began in September 1939, Mr. Farnes went on active duty with the R.A.F., posted first at a base in Filton, near Bristol, and then in France in early 1940.
He was commissioned an officer after the Battle of Britain, became an instructor and served in Malta, North Africa and Iraq. He also commanded two squadrons in Britain.
After retiring from the R.A.F. in 1958, he worked for his father-in-law in a building-material supply business and helped run a hotel, both in the seaside town of Worthing, on the English Channel.
His survivors include a daughter, Linda Martin, and a son, Jonathan. His two wives died before him, as did a second son, Nicholas
Aerial warfare against the Germans meant breaking away from the squadron, finding something to shoot at, firing away, then breaking away to safety. But by Mr. Farnes’s account it was also enjoyable, because he was able to combine his love of flying with the mission to protect Britain.
“The C.O. would quite often pick the next members of the squadron that had to be at ‘readiness,’ and the two or three who weren’t picked would be pretty fed up,” he told History of War. “If you weren’t picked, you’d think, ‘Why can’t I go?’ I’m sure one or two must have felt, ‘Well, thank God I’m not going!’ But a lot of us were quite happy to go.”
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