Tom Neil joined No. 249 Squadron flying Hurricanes just before the start of the Battle of Britain. He flew 141 combat missions (few pilots reached 50), mostly from North Weald airfield in Essex, and is credited with the destruction of more than 17 enemy aircraft. He went on to see further combat in Malta before returning to lead a squadron flying Spitfires over the Channel and elsewhere during 1943. Attached to the American 9th Air Force in 1944, he took part in the invasion of Normandy and remained with the USAAF until the border of Germany was reached.
After the war, he remained with the RAF until 1964, retiring with the rank of Wing Commander. He lectured at the prestigious School of Air Support, before spending four years as a Service Test pilot, where he flew over 100 aircraft types and participated in the development of pressurised flight suits.
Having served for some years in the British Embassy in Washington at the height of the Cold War, he returned to the US as a businessman before relocating to Norfolk, where his career included running an art gallery. He is the author of many books, including his acclaimed memoir THE SILVER SPITFIRE. He and his wife Eileen, who was a Fighter Command plotter when they met during the war, were married for almost 70 years and had three sons, two of whom became pilots in the Services. Tom Neil died in July 2018 at the age of 97.