TRIBUTES have been paid to 'one of the RAF's finest characters' Jack Perry MBE, who has died aged 92.

The Harwell man was just 19 when his Halifax Bomber crashed to the ground and left him with 80 per cent burns to his hands, face and ears in August 1944.

He subsequently joined the Guinea Pig Club - formed by RAF aircrew men with severe burns in honour of the pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe who treated them.

He was social secretary of the group for more than 40 years, organising day trips and events, receiving an MBE for services to veterans in the New Year's Honours list in January.

Following his death, the RAF paid tribute to the brave, selfless and inspiring man.

Director of welfare at the RAF Benevolent Fund, Paul Hughesdon, said: "We are very saddened to hear that Jack Perry MBE, one of the remaining members of The Guinea Pig Club, has passed away.

"The RAF Benevolent Fund feels very honoured to have had the opportunity to get to know Jack over the years and privileged to have him share his memories with us of WWII and of being injured and his time in The Guinea Pig Club."

He added: "From his days in Bomber Command to his support of the RAF Benevolent Fund he was brave, selfless, and inspiring.

"The RAF family has lost one of its finest characters and we send our condolences to Jack's family and his wife Mary at this difficult time."

His time with the club, which became world-renowned, also saw him mentor new generations of RAF burns victims, including personnel injured in the Falkland Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The father-of-three worked for Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell after the war as a draughtsman despite the burns on his hands and was even a talented snooker player in his spare time.

He lived in the village, with his wife Mary, 90, for nearly 70 years.

His son Andrew said: "We have been inundated with tributes. It has been completely overwhelming.

"He was a great father and a wonderful character and we have so many stories and memories of him."

Mr Perry, 51, said the family recently became aware of the impact Mr Perry had had on veterans across the UK.

He said: "When he was awarded his MBE, we had some lovely letters from burns victims saying he had changed their lives and the way they viewed their lives which was very touching."

The actress Amanda Redman, who suffered burns as a child, tweeted: "So very sad that my gorgeous Jack Perry has passed away.

"Bless you sweetheart."

Mr Perry left school at 14 and joined the Air Training Corps two years later before volunteering for air crew at 18.

Due to his engineering training, Mr Perry retrained and became a flight sergeant in Six Group Bomber Command, Heavy Conversion Unit, serving with the Canadians.

On August 31, 1944 Mr Perry reported an issue with the fuel warning light on the control panel to the pilot and the control tower at RAF Topcliffe in North Yorkshire.

But the engineer officer still instructed the crew to continue their mission and as the Halifax approached 300ft it exploded.

Mr Perry was thrown from the aircraft but went back to the fuselage in an attempt to rescue the tail gunner, who unfortunately died.

The severity of his burns meant he had to undergo 18 operations at Rauceby Hospital, Lincolnshire and 12 in East Grinstead.