War hero Bill chased from Hitler's study...

War veteran Bill Bellamy, one of the few men to walk through Hitler's study and see his personal possessions after he committed suicide, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer, aged 85.

The family of Mr Bellamy MC, from Great Brington, Northampton, father-of-five and grandfather to 17, have been sent many messages of condolence since his death on March 18.

His son, James, aged 56, from Mears Ashby, paid tribute to his father as a "very keen family man".

He said: "We have had a lot of very nice letters about how positive he was. He was heavily involved with village matters and charities. He did a lot for Cynthia Spencer Hospice."

Bill, whose real name was Lionel, was born in Northampton on December 1, 1923, and lived most of his childhood in Kettering. He joined the army straight from school in his late teens.

James said he was then commissioned as a royal officer and served in the Middle East.

He also fought throughout the North West Europe Campaign in 1944 and 1945, which is where he was awarded his Military Cross.

Bill kept a diary and snapshots of his war experiences, but it was only after 40 years gathering dust in his attic that he rediscovered these written records and photographs and decided to put them together in a book.

He originally intended the book – called Troop Leader – A Tank Commander's Story – to be a personal account for his children only, but a chance call from a publisher made sure his vivid, firsthand account of tank life made it into print.

In the book he talked about how he and comrades were in Berlin shortly after Hitler committed suicide in 1945, and they walked into Hitler's offices and saw the bunker where Hitler's body was burned.

Shortly afterwards they were confronted by a guard who told them they should not be there, and waved his rifle at them, after which they "didn't dally".

Mr Bellamy married Ann in 1950 and had children Simon, aged 57, James, Andrew, aged 55, Giles, aged 53, and Sarah, aged 52. Ann died in 2001 and Bill remarried Felicity in 2007.

He organised and took part in a 10-day trek across Cuba, raising 30,000 for Cynthia Spencer Hospice in 2005, when he was 81.

His funeral will take place at the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Great Brington, at 2pm on Friday.