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'Gentle' world war two RAF hero dies aged 98 after losing his final battle with illness

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The funeral of former RAF serviceman James ‘Jim’ Albert Dellow took place this week, after his death on December 24 at the age of 98.

Described as a quiet, unassuming man, Mr Dellow always held ambitions of flying and joined the RAF at the age of 18.

With world war two raging, Mr Dellow began his first tour of duty in 1941, serving as a bomb aimer as part of a seven-man Lancaster bomber crew.

James Dellow
James Dellow

He undertook 30 bombing missions during the war, at a time when bomber crews would survive just 15 bombing missions on average.

His crew almost fell on the wrong side of those statistics when they took heavy fire during one mission over Germany.

Their aircraft sustained damaged landing gear, one destroyed engine and took dozens of hits before limping home.

After completing a 30 mission tour, Mr Dellow and the rest of the crew were stood down from active operations and most became instructors.

The navigator in Mr Dellow’s crew was the only one who signed up for another tour but he, sadly, was shot down and killed before he could complete it.

Later, after the war, Mr Dellow became a geography teacher and lived out his days in the Suffolk village of Icklingham.

Like many in his family, he was a talented musician and enjoyed spending his spare time reading books.

His nephew, Robert Dellow, said: “As a quiet, sensitive, gentle man, the courage he displayed during the war is beyond my comprehension. He was, quite rightly, extremely proud of his service.

“He had an unshakeable commitment to duty and to his country. He was a man of faith, loyalty and service. Self-effacing and uncomplaining, he was was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.”

He added that Mr Dellow never married and left no children behind, but he would be missed by all who knew him, in particular the families of neighbours Dorothy Handford and Sue Marston, who were always glad to visit and help him as he grew more frail.

After spending his later years enjoying music and reading Mr Dellow finally succumbed to a long-term illness on Christmas eve.