Billy Drake was born in London on 20th December 1917 and joined the RAF on a short service commission in July 1936. He was posted to 6 FTS Netheravon on 19th September and after completing his training joined No. 1 Squadron at Tangmere on 22nd May 1937.
Drake went to France with the squadron in September 1939. On 20th April 1940 he destroyed a Me109 and possibly another; on 10th May a He111; and on 13th May he shot down a Do17 and probably another but was jumped by Me110s and shot down. He baled out, wounded, over Perthes, south of Paris. He was taken by French civilians to hospital in Rethel from where he was later flown back to a RAF hospital in England.
He arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 20th June 1940 for flying instructor duties. Drake returned to operations when he was posted to 213 Squadron at Tangmere on 2nd October 1940. Three weeks later he joined 421 Flight at Hawkinge as a Flight Commander.
He took part in the first Battle of Britain flypast in September 1945. Drake retired from the RAF on 1st July 1963 as a Wing Commander, retaining the rank of Group Captain.
Drake settled in the Algarve area of Portugal but returned to Devon in the UK some years before his death on 28th August 2011.
Photos and text courtesy of Battle of Britain Monument website