A BATTLE of Britain fighter pilot was honoured at a touching memorial service after he died aged 92.

Squadron Leader Donald Mercer A.E, who was born and bred in Great Harwood, flew Hurricanes and Spitfires and was in many of World War Two’s most dramatic campaigns.

He led missions in both Europe and the Far East, escorted Atlantic and Baltic convoys, served in India and Burma and was in Singapore during the Japanese invasion.

Little is known about the details of campaigns Sqn Ldr Mercer led, as he remained very reluctant to discuss the war throughout his life.

However, as a squadron leader who was commissioned in 1939, he would have been one of the first pilots to fly at the head of new tight ‘v formations’, facing the enemy head-on.

At his memorial service in Accrington Crematorium today, his coffin was carried into the small chapel, draped with the Royal Air Force Association flag.

On top lay his peaked RAF cap and medals, including the 39-45 Star, the Atlantic Star, the Burma Star, the Defence Medal, the Victory Medal, and the prestigious Air Efficiency Medal which was given to long-service officers.

Following a flag bearer and a bugle player from the RAFA who would later sound the last post, over 100 mourners filled the small chapel.

Reading the eulogy, Sqn Ldr Mercer’s son Tim told how his father had never lost his love of flying and had flown over the coast of Australia with an instructor just seven years ago at the age of 85.

He went on to describe his father’s early passion for roller hockey at his grandfather’s skating rink in Great Harwood and how he was capped for England, playing matches in Europe and at home.

After the war, Sqn Ldr Mercer became Deputy Commanding Officer for the City of Manchester Auxiliary Squadron at Ringway until 1960, when he returned home to run a men’s outfitters in Great Harwood.

A lifetime supporter of Blackburn Rovers - still going to Rovers’ matches in his eighties - he also loved golf.

Donald was a member of Great Harwood Golf Club for 80 years, holding the record for the longest membership and also served as director and president.

His daughter Lesley said: “Pilots like him lost so many friends in the war that they didn’t like to speak about it much.

"His generation did so much, and we will never know everything they did.”

One of the few times that he was known to have spoken of his experiences was in 2003, while attending a Westminster Abbey service marking the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Attending the service with his wife, Jean, and wearing his original uniform, he described how comrades were dying at the rate of one a fortnight.

"I was nicknamed 'Pop' because, at 24, I was the oldest. The other pilots were around 19 and 20.”

The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces.

Sqn Ldr Mercer is survived by his children Nicola, Lesley and Tim, grandchildren Naomi and Matthew and his wife Joan, who lives in Rishton.