A Flackwell Heath war hero has died peacefully at home aged 96.

Charlie Darby lived in the village his whole life, except when he was flying in Halifax bombers during World War II.

He was born on May 26, 1924, in Chopstick Alley - now Fairview Lane.

After completing his education, Charlie found a job at Fords’s paper mill in Loudwater - but when War War II started, he was told that he must play a part in the national war-effort.

He was sent to work with Broom & Wade's in Wycombe to dismantle Churchill tanks for overhaul.

Charlie was also one of the first to join the Flackwell Heath Fire Service at the age of 16. It was set up in 1940 and formed of part-time volunteers who dealt with the effects of enemy bombing in the area.

In April 1943, aged 18, Charlie volunteered to join the Services and his attestation took place at Euston House in Euston Square, London.

He applied to become aircrew in the RAF and was called up on September 20, 1943.

He was instructed to report to St John's Wood for initiation and had the distinction of being kitted out at the Lords cricket club.

He went on to become a Rear Air Gunner and undertook 30 operational missions over Germany flying in Halifax aircraft.

Charlie explained that in the Halifax this involved levering himself over the tail-end department, which consisted of the ammunition belt-feed to the rear turret coming through the base of the turret to feed the gun, and then pulling himself feet-first for about four feet into the seat in the gun turret. This procedure had to be repeated in reverse to get out of the aircraft.

In a previous article for the Bucks Free Press, Charlie recounted one occasion when the Halifax had just dropped its payload over a German city and had turned for home when from the light of the fires on the ground he saw a German fighter plane in the distance that was rapidly approaching the Halifax from the rear.

Because the fighter and the bomber were flying away from the light from the flames, although he could see the fighter, the German pilot would be unable to see the Halifax until he was much closer - but if he fired his gun the tracer marks would give away the bomber’s position.

By arrangement with the Captain he held his fire and left it until the last possible moment before advising the pilot to dive and the German plane passed harmlessly overhead.

The war ended shortly after Charlie finished his first operational tour of 30 missions and he eventually returned to civilian life.

He was the last surviving crew member of 466 Squadron, which was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bomber squadron during World War II.

After his service, Charlie played football for Flackwell Heath and Wycombe Wanderers and also enjoyed cricket, shooting and played golf at county level.

He went on to work on production at Hoovers, first in Perivale and then at the High Wycombe factory in Cressex, before going back to Broom & Wade.

Charlie eventually set up his own successful painting and decorating business.

His family say he was in good health until around two or three weeks before he passed away on Wednesday, April 7.

He died peacefully at home aged 96. He was married to wife Barbara for nearly 75 years and was a "wonderful" dad to Marilyn and Tony, a grandfather and great grandfather.

He will be laid to rest today, Thursday, April 22 at the Chilterns Crematorium.

A tribute page dedicated to Charlie's memory will raise money for Children with Cancer UK - go to charliedarby.muchloved.com/ to donate.