Blondie, world war fighter ace dies, 91

DAREDEVIL Second World War fighter pilot Arnold "Blondie" Walker has died at the age of 91.

The Halifax-born air ace flew 169 sorties, was shot down three times and won the Distinguished Flying Cross twice.

Mr Walker, born at Warley Edge, Halifax, was the youngest of three children and went to Heath Grammar School. He left at 15 to join his father's stonemasonry business.

At 18 he stepped up to run the firm when his father died and when the Second World War broke out he volunteered for the RAF.

His first UK posting was Carlisle where he showed his maverick side by making an unscheduled flight to Halifax and two low-level passes over his house in Westborough Drive, Highroad Well.

His mother ran into the garden, waving a towel, as he roared overhead.

He was stationed in the Middle East, Italy and Corsica, flying his Hurricane in daring missions almost daily.

At one point between June 2 and June 7 1944, Arnold flew 10 night sorties and 18 low-level attacks.

Twice he was shot down in the Adriatic, the second time spending six days marooned on a small island, surviving only on biscuits and barley sugars.

In August 1944 he was awarded the DFC and a second three months later.

He left the RAF in 1946 to return to Halifax, re-establishing the family business.

It went on to build thousands of council and private houses across Calderdale in the next 50 years.

He was a Liberal councillor for Warley ward and president of Halifax Building Trades Council.

He was also a keen sportsman – captain of West End Golf Club and a regular on the ski slopes of Kitzbuhel, Austria, gaining the nickname "Halifax".

In later years he lived nine months of the year in Perth, Australia, and three in Halifax.

He died peacefully in hospital in Perth.

He is survived by his former wife and the mother of his children – Maisie – his daughter Diana and his grandchildren, Melissa and Daniel.

Arnold's son, Johnny, died in 2007.


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