A CELEBRATED RAF airman who later became a renowned military historian has passed away at the age of 97.

Noble Frankland, who was born and raised in Westmorland, flew scores of bombing missions during World War Two, and went on to become director general the Imperial War Museum.

Born Anthony Noble Frankland, he hailed from the Ravenstonedale area where he grew up with his family.

He later attended Sedbergh School, where records show he was a day boy at the school's Hart House from 1936 to 1940.

The archives department at Sedbergh School said the young Mr Frankland was a prize winner in the Lower School Geography department in Julky 1938 and was assistant librarian and president of the school's debating society in winter 1940.

In December 1940, The Sedberghian noted his role in the debating society by saying "A growing desire for reforms had always been present in the House, and the pomp and dignity with which Frankland, the new president, invested his part occasioned a fresh effort to secure them.”

Mr Frankland gained a scholarship to read History at Trinity College, Oxford in 1941.

He joined the RAF in 1941 and flew an incredible 94 bombing missions as World War Two raged.

Mr Frankland left the RAF in 1945 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant and was subsequently awarded Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur for his involvement in the liberation of France in 1944.

After the conflict, he worked at the Air Historical Branch of the Air Ministry and went on to become an author and war expert, and he was historical adviser to the famous TV series The World at War, with several interviews with Mr Frankland being featured in the series.

He became director general of the Imperial War Museum in 1960, a post he held until 1982.

During that time, he is credited with transforming the IWM from a failing institution into one of the world's leading historical centres for the study of the conflicts of the 20th century.

Mr Frankland was the brother of noted conservationist Dr Helga Frankland and the great grandson of celebrated chemist Sir Edward Frankland.