Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 12:44 UK

Last war-time MP Millington dies

Ernest Millington in 2005
Mr Millington questioned the morality of the RAF's bombing campaign

The last surviving person to sit as an MP during World War II has died at the age of 93, his daughter has said.

Ernest Millington, who was an RAF pilot during the war, won the Chelmsford by-election in April 1945 and was in the Commons for Churchill's VE Day speech.

He was initially elected as a member of the left-wing Common Wealth party but joined Labour a year later.

He lost his seat to Conservative candidate Hubert Ashton in 1950 before going on to become a teacher in London.

In April 2009 he told the BBC he had had "no desire" to be an MP but recalled a "deep desire" for change.

His daughter, Caroline Millington, said he would be "much missed" by his wife and family.

She added: "He had a chequered and fascinating career."

'Most influential'

Mr Millington was the Commons' youngest MP when he was elected at the age of 29.

Previously, he had been promoted four times in the RAF to the rank of Wing Commander and had commanded a heavy bomber squadron.

However, he was one of the first public figures to question the morality of the aerial bombardment of Germany.

He told the House of Commons in March 1946: "We want - that is, the people who served in Bomber Command of the Royal Air Force and their next of kin - a categorical assurance that the work we did was militarily and strategically justified."

Ernest Millington in 1945
I had progressed from being a homeless, jobless outcast at the age of 16, chucked out of home and obliged to leave school
Ernest Millington

In 2009, Mr Millington recalled that the speech was hailed by journalist and leading Labour MP JPW Mallelieu as "the most influential of the year".

Chelmsford had been a safe Conservative seat when its MP John MacNamara was shot down in action in Italy in December 1944.

When he was approached to stand as the Common Wealth candidate, Mr Millington, who had just completed a tour of operational flying, said he had not wanted to actually win and believed the party stood little chance of success. He thought fighting an election would be a "pleasant change" to desk work.

But with no Labour or Liberal candidate due to the war-time coalition truce, he transformed the Tory majority of 16,624 into a 6,500 margin of victory.

However, it was Mr Millington's spell in the RAF - for which he was recognised with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) - which left the greater mark on him.

In his autobiography, Was That Really Me?, written at the age of 89, he wrote: "I had progressed from being a homeless, jobless outcast at the age of 16, chucked out of home and obliged to leave school."

He added that if asked "of what I was most proud, I would have no hesitation in replying, 'Commanding a squadron of Lancasters'".

In an interview with the BBC last month, he recalled being approached by a Tory MP who told him that his DFC ribbon was worn too wide.

Mr Millington added: "He was, I think, not expecting my reaction. 'If you are talking to me as an RAF officer: stand to attention; take your hand out of your trouser pocket and address a senior officer as Sir. If you are talking to me as a fellow Member of Parliament, mind your business.'"

After his first wife, Gwen, died in 1979, he retired to the Dordogne in France with his second wife, Ivy, in the early 1980s.

He is survived by Ivy, four children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.



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