A WAR hero who returned to fight in the Battle of Britain just weeks after seeing fellow servicemen gunned down by Nazis at Dunkirk has died.

Arthur Taylor, who lived in Christchurch, was one of the 330,000 men rescued from the beaches of the French town.

The RAF radio operator saw comrades cut down by machine gun fire as he queued for some 36 hours to board a ‘little ship’. He returned home to England in May 1940.

Despite his experiences, he channelled the famous ‘Dunkirk spirit’ and rejoined the war effort at the Battle of Britain a little while later.

Mr Taylor was involved with the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships in his later years, even leading the veterans’ parade in Dunkirk for the 75th anniversary of Operation Dynamo in 2015.

Ian Gilbert, the vice admiral of the association, paid tribute to a man with a “great spirit” who “was always in great humour and loved life”.

Mr Taylor was born in Mortlake, south west London. He lied about his age to join the Territorial Army in 1936 when he was working for Harrods.

In May 1939, he joined the RAF and trained as a wireless operator for Lancaster bombers.

He caught pleurisy joining his training and thereafter couldn’t fly at high altitudes. As a result, he served as ground crew.

He joined the RAF’s 13 Squadron based in northern France in January 1940.

By May 28, his regiment were the last line of defence between the enemy and the beaches.

In an interview with the Daily Echo in 2010, Mr Taylor said: “At this point we had had no drink or food for days.

“We went to a café and were told there was no water in Dunkirk because the Germans had blown up all the water mains.

“Instead they filled our bottles with vin rouge.”

He and his fellow servicemen queued for many hours to get to the pier.

“The line was 20 people wide. For 36 hours we were bombed and shelled,” he said. “We saw people machine-gunned right before our eyes.

“You didn’t think about what was happening – you just got on with it.

“That was the true Dunkirk spirit.”

After his return home via armed trawler the Lord Grey on May 30, he was posted to RAF Hawkinge and RAF Lympne in Kent during the Battle of Britain.

During the conflict, he worked as ground crew on Spitfires.

Mr Taylor met wife Vera while serving at RAF Christchurch in 1941. The couple were married that year.

After the war he was demobbed, but rejoined the RAF six months later as he couldn’t settle into civilian life.

He served for 36 more years, including in Hong Kong, Kenya and Singapore during the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s.

After retiring from the RAF he worked as a part time accountant in Christchurch.

Mr Taylor suffered a fall at home last November and spent five weeks in hospital before passing away on December 28 aged 98. He leaves Vera, six children, 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

A special ensign of St George that only the Dunkirk Little Ships are allowed to fly will be draped on his coffin at his funeral on February 1 in Bournemouth.