AN RAF pilot who died during the Battle of Britain has been honoured at a poignant ceremony at St Helens Cemetery 75 years later.

The gravestone of Norman Sutton, who died on October 5 1940 aged 26, had fallen into disrepair but has received careful renovation, arranged by amateur historian Adrian Cork, who has undertaken research into the life and death of Battle of Britain pilots from across the borough.

And a moving ceremony was organised by the Friends of St Helens Cemetery to honour the Parr pilot who served the RAF Volunteer Reserve 72 Squadron and left behind wife of eight months, Joan.

The renovated headstone at St Helens Cemetery was unveiled by the former spitfire pilot’s nephew Bill Gabbott,

who helped to fund the renovation after being contacted by Adrian. Deputy ,mayor of St Helens, Cllr David Banks was also present, accompanied by deputy mayoress Cllr Jeanette Banks.

Deputy mayor Cllr Banks said: “The act of remembrance grows increasingly important as the years go by. Honouring Pilot Officer Sutton in this way helps to keep alive the memory of his sacrifice in Britain’s defence and that of others.

"The research conducted by Adrian Cork also ensures that a unique and personal insight to a time that few in our community now remember first-hand is preserved for future generations.”

Poppy wreaths were laid during the event, at which Adrian read from the last letter Norman sent to his family from his station at the RAF Biggin Hill Aerodrome, just days before his death.

In the letter, Sutton described the scene: “Bombs dropping and AA fire all night long in the surrounding districts and we are in the air three or four times a day… Here we are on the thick of it all. Right in the Valley of Death so to speak.”

The letter also portrays Sutton as a man who would carry out his solemn duties with an air of frivolity, as he told his parents of an earlier plane crash: “I’m fit as ever and quite bright in spite of the fact that I crashed the other day. It was a hell of a crash too. The machine is an absolute wreck but little Norman only got a headache, a bruised bottom and a broken cigarette case which I carried in my hip pocket.”

Reverend Canon David Eastwood of St Helens Parish Church was also there and gave a short service and representatives from the Royal Air Force 611 Squadron, RAF Association, RAF Air Cadets and the Royal British Legion.