What Happened To Tom Hardy’s Pilot Character In Real Life


  • Tom Hardy’s character Farrier in Dunkirk is based on real-life WWII pilot Alan Deere who made a heroic sacrifice during the evacuation of Dunkirk.
  • Farrier’s fictional sacrifice represents the selflessness required to rescue the stranded soldiers, while Deere’s real-life story has significant parallels to Farrier’s character.
  • Unlike Farrier in the movie, Deere survived the war, was not taken as a prisoner of war, and lived a long life after his heroic actions.

The Tom Hardy Dunkirk character had a real-life inspiration, but the fate of Hardy’s Farrier differed from the real person. In the movie, Farrier is a Squadron Leader and a pilot in the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force who leads the mission to the Dunkirk evacuation sight along with a pilot named Collins and their unseen commander who is shot down early. Farrier successfully shoots down a German bomber plane despite his fuel gauge being broken and his cooling system compromised. Eventually, he runs out of fuel, and he is taken as a prisoner of war.

The real history behind Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is told with masterful attention to detail, varying the perspectives between soldiers on land, in the air, and at sea. The evacuation of Dunkirk was one of the most pivotal moments in World War II for the Allied Forces. Farrier’s fictional sacrifice in the movie represented the selflessness that was required to rescue more than 330,000 stranded French and British soldiers. As a prisoner of war in the hands of Nazi Germany, Farrier was likely taken to a war prison or concentration camp to wait out the remainder of WWII, or worse.


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The Real-Life Inspiration For Dunkirk’s Farrier Survived World War II (& Wasn’t Taken Prisoner)

Alan Deere Was A Pilot From New Zealand Who Survived Several Harrowing WWII Battles

Tom Hardy’s Dunkirk character Farrier most closely resembles the true story of World War II pilot Alan Deere. Deere is one of the greatest fighter pilots to ever come out of New Zealand, though he fought for Great Britain during WWII. He was known thanks to several near-death experiences throughout his illustrious career in various battles, one of which was famously depicted in Dunkirk.

Hardy’s character Farrier, while fictional, is technically not based on just one soldier or pilot, but the heroism of both the fictional Farrier and the real-life Deere has several significant parallels. Deere documented his war stories in his autobiography Nine Lives: Fighter Pilots. During WWII, Deere’s plane was damaged while fighting the Germans over Dunkirk. He was forced to make an emergency landing on a Belgian beach, which was similar to Farrier’s fate at the end of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.

However, unlike Farrier in the movie, Deere wasn’t taken as a POW by Germans after he crashed. Instead, Deere made his way to a nearby town and was later rescued by the British Army. He survived World War II and died in 1995 at the age of 77. Remarkably, Dunkirk was Deere’s first combat experience during the war. By shooting down the German Bf 109, Deere became the first ever Spitfire pilot to achieve a victory in aerial combat over the common German plane (via New Zealand Herald).


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Collins’ Dunkirk Ending More Accurately Reflects Alan Deere’s True Story

The Blame Put On RAF Pilots Was Based On Reality

Collins flying his plane in Dunkirk

Farrier’s fellow Dunkirk pilot, Collins, more accurately reflects Deere’s true story. In the WWII epic, Collins takes harsh comments from fellow soldiers about what the Royal Air Force was doing during the evacuation, which was similar to the insults faced by Alan Deere when being transported by the British Army.

After his plane crashed into the ocean after combat, Deere received medical assistance for his wounds before rendezvousing with British troops, who scorned him and accused him of not showing up when they needed air support (via History vs Hollywood). Although Deere’s heroic skill was portrayed by Hardy’s Farrier, the real-life soldier’s ending was more accurate to that of RAF pilot Collins in Dunkirk.

Source: New Zealand Herald, History vs Hollywood

  • Dunkirk (2017) Poster


    This epic tale of World War II tells the story of soldiers from Belgium, Britain, Canada and France, who are surrounded by the German army, and the dangerous operation that evacuated and saved the lives of thousands.

    Release Date:

    Kenneth Branagh, Aneurin Barnard, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan

    Christopher Nolan

    History, Drama, Action


    Christopher Nolan

    106 minutes

    $82.5–150 million

    Warner Bros. Pictures

    Warner Bros. Pictures

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