Old soldier Major General Corran Purdon, who survived Colditz and won the Military Cross, has died at home aged 97.

General Corran, of Devizes, was a Second World War hero with a military career worthy of a Hollywood film script. He volunteered for the Commandos and received the Military Cross for his part in raids on Norway and perhaps the most daring raid of the war on St Nazaire, where he was wounded and captured.

However, he escaped from Spangenburg PoW camp, where he was imprisoned, and was on the run for ten days before being recaptured and transferred to the notorious Colditz Castle prison, where his companions included Airey Neave and amputee air ace Douglas Bader.

Years later Maj Gen Purdon, who won the Military Cross and was awarded the CBE and the CPM, was a Knight of St John and also had the Legion of Honour. worked with Jeremy Clarkson and appeared in the 2007 BBC2 documentary The Greatest Raid of All Time.

He was born in Cork, Ireland, and was proud of his Irish roots.

Up until his death he was the patron of Port20, a British movie production company that is working to bring the St Nazaire story to the big screen.

James Dorrian, an historian, author and director of Port20, said: "Corran was was the sort of person who had natural leadership quality.

"He was extremely charming, charismatic and incredibly inspirational. He was the sort of person who you would follow into hell."He was also incredibly fit and was still doing 50 press ups a day well into his 80s.

"He didn't care about money, his whole life was dedicated to service.

"He was one of the most impressive men I have ever know and a true gentleman.

"He will truly be missed and the world is a poorer place without him."

He was left a widower in 2007 after the death of his first wife Patricia, who he had been married to for more than 60 years. The couple had three children Tim, Patrick and Angela but Patrick died ten years ago. General Corran also leaves seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

In 2009 at the age of 88 he tied the knot with Jean Ottway, the widow of his cousin, who was then aged 74. He is survived by his second wife.

Maj General Purdon retired as General Officer Commanding Near East Land Forces in 1976 and became deputy commissioner of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force between 1978 and 1981.

His son Tim said: "He really just died of old age. He was very happy on that day for everyone to be together."

For many years he was commander of the Wiltshire branch of St John Ambulance.