He married in 1929, to Maud Goater, who died in 1983; they had two children. He played the violin in amateur orchestras, sang as a tenor, and enjoyed listening to the Toronto Symphony. Although no lover of competitive sport, Botterell was a keen on lone sailing, skiing and bicycling. He continued to swim at the Montreal Athletic Club until he slipped on its icy steps at the age of 98.

Botterell was awarded the French Legion of Honour in 1998 as a surviving veteran of WWI and, in 1999, then aged 102, was guest of honour at a dinner to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The previous year he had celebrated his 102nd birthday at a hotel in Lille where he and 16 other Canadian veterans marked the 80th anniversary of the war's end. He died peacefully at the Sunnybrook Veterans Hospital, on 3 January 2003, less than two months after celebrating his 106th birthday.

Click here to read the Daily Telegraph’s Obituary:

So, as a result of our visit, I hope that Henry’s memory will live on. He was a remarkable man in a remarkable time, but saw himself as just an ordinary man. During an interview about his wartime exploits he once said:

"I had good hands. I didn't have the fighting acumen of some, like Billy Bishop. I was just a bank clerk. I wasn't one of the very best, but I had my share of action."

He reminded us during our visit that the average life-span of a pilot on the Western Front in those days was just twelve days. Yet Henry Botterell had managed to hang on for 105 years by 2001, and was the oldest surviving fighter pilot in the world.

For me, it was the greatest privilege of my career. What struck me was just how much a gentleman he was. He said it was just a lot of fuss about nothing, although he was pleased that the Squadron had remembered him. There was encapsulated within him so much of that part of the British character that is becoming more rare: immense courage and dedication to duty, but taken as a matter of course without a trace of ego. If I could get a little bit of that spirit into the pilots who we were training at Valley, I would be delighted. In that sense, our visit had not just been an historic exercise, it had been a training mission for our pilots.

And the final footnote to this story takes it back to its beginning in an art gallery in Bath. As we bade farewell to our generous hosts in Toronto, the representative of the Military Gallery handed me a large cardboard tube, and a knowing smile. Rolled inside the tube was a gift of my very own copy of Robert Taylor’s ‘The Dambusters’, which now hangs in pride of place in my collection, alongside my own copy of ‘Balloon Buster’ kindly dedicated by Robert Taylor himself to my time in command of 208 Squadron.

Balloon Buster 100 - 09

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