A HERO of the Second World War was found dead by 999 crews following a fire at his sheltered housing flat in the centre of York, an inquest has heard.

Robert William Walker, 91, who was bed-ridden and a smoker who suffered from lung disease, died on Saturday morning when fire broke out at his home in the City Mills complex in Skeldergate.

Yesterday York coroner Donald Coverdale opened an inquest into Mr Walker’s death, before adjourning it for further investigations.

Mr Coverdale said: “He had the facility of a carer calling on him a number of times a day.

“He was largely confined to bed.

“A carer had attended him at nine o’clock and Mr Walker had appeared to be fine.

“He had his cigarettes to hand and the carer left the premises.

“At about 10am that day a neighbour heard a fire alarm go off and she went to investigate and saw smoke coming from Mr Walker’s flat.”

Mr Coverdale said fire crews were already on their way by that time and they later discovered his body on the bed.

The room was described as having “extensive smoke damage”.

Mr Walker’s younger brother, Harold, who contacted The Press from his home in America, described him as a “good family man” and said he had served as a radio operator and air gunner during the Second World War.

He flew missions over Europe and was awarded a number of medals for his service.

His brother said that after the war he lived in London for some years before returning to York where he took up the trade of cabinet maker.

The opening of the inquest yesterday was given a provisional cause of death as smoke inhalation.

The hearing was adjourned until a later date.