A SECOND World War hero who was still flying in active service during the Gulf War in the 1990s has died.

James Vidler served around the world during his distinguished career, which spanned more than 50 years and led to him receiving The Burma Star Medal and an MBE.

Mr Vidler was born in May 1922 in West London. He lied about his age when the Second World War broke out in 1939, so he could enlist in the Royal Air Force (RAF).

"Everyone was saying the war would be over by Christmas, so Jim decided he wasn't going to miss out on the action," said his wife, Irene Vidler, 71.

"He added a year to his age and was initially put to work as a gunner on Lancaster Bombers."

During the conflict, Mr Vidler served all over the world, including a short spell with the Dutch Navy, and survived three air crashes.

Towards the end of the war, when he was serving in Burma, he suffered a fractured skull from a bayonet wound during a battle with Japanese troops. He survived and was given The Burma Star Medal.

Mr Vidler remained in the RAF as an engineer and took part in the Berlin Airlift just after the war, before continuing his service in the Malayan and Korean Wars, also serving in India, Australia and Canada as a Master Technician and Warrant Officer.

In 1960, he was awarded the MBE for outstanding service with the RAF.

Mr Vidler, known as Jim, left the RAF and married Irene in 1965, when she was serving with Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service.

"He had been involved in a really bad car accident and the first time I met him was when I was treating him on the ward wiping the blood from his face," she said.

"As soon as he saw me he said, 'I'm going to marry you'."

As part of a new career in civil aviation, Mr Vidler lived and worked in Hong Kong, Malawi, Jordan, Dubai, and Sharjah, before returning to England in the 1970s, living in Bingley and later Shipley.

In 1990, aged 69, he again lied about his age while working for World Airways in America so he could be seconded into the American Air Force as the first Gulf War broke out.

He flew between Egypt and Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield, receiving a citation for his services.

"I seemed to spend half my life altering his birth certificate so he could continue working," said Mrs Vidler.

"He was really proud of his citation for Desert Shield, and of all his other medals, and his MBE.

"He had some amazing experiences, and really was a legend in his own life time."

Mr Vidler, who died aged 92 on Monday, leaves his wife, daughter Samantha and granddaughters, Larissa and Isabelle.

His funeral is at 10.50am on Friday, November 21, at Nab Wood Crematorium, with donations to the Hospice at Home charity.