Reposted from Steve Brew’s ‘The Pilots of 41 Squadron RAF, 1916-1946 (Link)
Ladies and gents, it is with great sadness that I advise that one of our remaining WWII veterans, Gp Capt Derek S. V. Rake OBE AFC and Bar passed away this morning, aged 98.
Derek led a fascinating RAF career, which spanned from 1941 to 1976. Shot down and wounded over Yugoslavia in 1944, he was found by partisans, who tended his wounds and returned him to Allied lines.
He was repatriated to the UK and from there was posted to 41 Squadron on the Continent in March 1945. Derek then advanced with 41 Sqn into Germany, and ultimately claimed 41 Squadron's 200th and last victory of the war.
He remained in the RAF, subsequently serving in India and Burma, and was then sent to Hong Kong, where he formed the Royal Hong Kong Air Force. When Derek returned home, he retrained on jet aircraft and was ultimately employed throughout the cold war in ELINT and reconnaissance both with the Air Ministry and in the air, undertaking a significant number of secret ops over the former Eastern Bloc, flying Canberras as a Flight Commander with 88 (Night Intruder) Sqn and as OC, 192 (ELINT) Sqn, for which he was awarded an AFC.
Derek was born in Alderholt, Dorset, 26 May 1922, and was educated in Wimbourne Grammar, Dorset, and Southampton University College. He joined Southampton University Air Squadron and enlisted in the RAFVR in April 1941. Commissioned in June 1942, he was posted to 32 Sqn in August 1942 and to 41 Sqn in March 1945. He retired as Group Captain on 26 March 1976.
Derek provided me a significant amount of first hand material and photographs for "Blood, Sweat and Valour", and gave a truly memorable talk in a mock interview he and I held between courses at a 41 Squadron’ 95th Anniversary dining in night at RAF Coningsby, for 41 Squadron's in 2011. He had the room spellbound and you could have heard a pin drop.
He was a lovely and a good friend, and Jacqui and I have had the pleasure of knowing him personally.
May he rest in peace.
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