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Valentine's special: Irene and Jim

Jim and Irene Vidler on their wedding dayIn our third Valentine's blog celebrating RAF couples, we bring you the story of Jim and Irene Vidler. Jim was a Battle of Britain veteran who sadly passed away on 10 November 2014. Jim had been married to Irene for 48 years and during that time they never spent a day apart. Jim suffered from Alzheimer's and was nursed by Irene at home during his final weeks after he contracted septicaemia. She tells us why you can never say goodbye to the love of your life.

Jim was my soul mate. The most charismatic man you will ever meet. He could play a room, charm the ladies and he had the most wicked twinkle in his eye. Everybody used to call him my James Bond.

Jim was 21 years older than me. He'd served in the RAF for 24 years before we met in 1963. He'd joined the RAF when he was just 17 and served as both ground crew and an air gunner, in the UK, Norway and Burma. He was awarded the Burma Star and the MBE for his services to the RAF.

During the Battle of Britain, Jim was a member of the ground crew at RAF Middle Wallop, refuelling and re-arming Spitfires defending the South Coast of England from enemy attack.

Jim VidlerI was 21-years-old when we met and serving with the Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service and Jim was 41. He'd been in a car accident and I was nursing him. He turned to me and said, "I'm going to marry you one day", and two years later we walked down the aisle.

In 48 years of marriage we were hardly ever apart. The secret of our long marriage was that we understood each other and after years with the RAF I gave Jim a stable home. 

He was such an active man and never looked his age. In 1990, aged 69, he got a job with World Airways in America and was seconded into the American Air Force as the first Gulf War broke out.

He flew between Egypt and Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield!  He was awarded a citation for 'Exceptional Performance'.

At his funeral they called him a legend but to me he was just a lovely man who would have given me the world. I miss him terribly.

By Irene Vidler

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