War hero honoured by Churchill died after fall

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First published in News

A WAR hero died from a head injury after falling outside his home in Wootton, near Abingdon, an inquest heard yesterday.

Basil King, 88, who was recognised for his bravery during the Second World War by Winston Churchill and King George VI, died on Sunday, July 20.

Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard the grandfather-of-one had been prone to falling and suffered from heart problems, which may have contributed to his death.

The inquest heard a neighbour found him lying in his driveway on Saturday, July 19, at about 8.40pm and called an ambulance.

He was taken to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital but his condition deteriorated and he died from traumatic subdural haematoma the next day at about 9.45pm.

Mr King, of Home Close, had previously suffered a stroke and had type two diabetes and coronary heart disease, which assistant coroner Alison Thompson said may have contributed to his fall.

Mr King was married to Betty, 88, for 66 years, and had a son Christopher, 64.

He joined the Merchant Navy when he was 16 and served in the Second World War. His ship was torpedoed twice in the Atlantic Convoys. Mr King received a letter from the Prime Minister and King George VI commending his bravery after taking over a gun to fire at U-boats when the gun crew were injured.

When he left in 1953 he was a ship captain, later working for the Pressed Steel Company at the Cowley car manufacturing plant for 30 years.

Mr King’s son, who lives in Abingdon, said: “He was a war hero. He was very much in control of what he wanted to do and was a very determined chap.”

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

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