A FORMER Bolton war hero who was a prisoner of war in Italy for three years during the Second World War has died -- aged 90.

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert "Tug" Wilson, was born and educated in Bolton, at the Bolton Church Institute School, on Silverwell Street.

He volunteered for the Commandos in the aftermath of Dunkirk, in 1940, and became a founder member of the Special Boat Section.

Mr Wilson was sent to the Mediterranean by submarine in 1941 and took a leading role in carrying out Churchill's orders "to set Europe ablaze".

But his war was brought to an end in 1942 when he was captured and sent to an Italian PoW camp. He tried to escape from the camp twice, and was sent to a prison in Rome, where he had to prove he was a British officer and not an Italian Communist.

He was liberated by American troops in April 1945.

After being freed, he helped to raise £13,000 with other prisoners to start the Brunswick Boys' Club in Fulham, which was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1948.

After three months' repatriation leave, he volunteered again, this time for the Red Devils. And after parachute training he became a battery commander in the 66th Airborne Anti-Tank Regiment serving in Palestine.

He served in the Korean War in the 1950s and took part in the Suez operation before he took early retirement to become an Army Careers Officer in Warwickshire.

Mr Wilson lived in Leamington and is survived by a sister, Minnie Elizabeth, who now lives in Derbyshire.