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World War II flying ace dies

Aug. 31, 2011 at 1:08 PM

LONDON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- British World War II fighter ace Billy Drake has died at the age of 93.

The Daily Telegraph said Drake, who shot down some 25 enemy aircraft and was one of the most colorful and successful Allied "flying aces" of World War II, died Sunday. The cause of death and exact location could not be confirmed, The Washington Post said.

Drake, a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, was born Dec. 20, 1917, in London. His father was a British doctor and his mother was Australian. He was sent to boarding school in Switzerland as a child after several British schools were unable to contain his "lively temperament," The Daily Telegraph reported.

Drake joined the Royal Air Force just before his 18th birthday after seeing an advertisement in a magazine. He saw his first enemy action in 1940 and actively participated in operational attacks until 1944 when he was sent to the U.S. Command School in Kansas before joining the staff of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, the newspaper said.

Drake continued to fly and train other pilots until he retired from the RAF in 1963. He later moved to Portugal, where he managed properties and opened the successful "Billy's Bar." He returned to Britain in 1993.

Drake was married twice and is survived by two sons.

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