TRIBUTES have been paid to the man who released the first British atom bomb.

Squadron Leader Edwin (Ted) Flavell from Shipton Gorge has died at the age of 91.

His friend Alan Kidson, from the Royal Airforce Association (RAFA), said: “He was a very pleasant person and always willing to help and quite gregarious in his own way.

“He was very a single-minded person in whatever he did.

“I am not surprised he did so well in his life. He was a great organiser.”

Sqn Ldr Flavell was the captain of a 49 Squadron Valiant on Operation Buffalo, when he was tasked with releasing the first operational British Army Bomb in Australia on October 11, 1956.

The incident caused some concern when the bomb, equivalent to 10,000 tons of TNT, exploded at 1,000ft. Children at a school some 200 miles away heard what seemed to be a double explosion which shook the school building.

Sq Ldr Flavell and his Bomb Aimer Flt Lt Stacey were awarded the Air Force Cross for their part in the operation.

A year later he was captain of the observation Valiant when the first British hydrogen bomb was dropped on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean.

Sqn Ldr Flavell was born in Wandsworth in 1922, the first son of Edwin and Norah Flavell and later brother to Jim and Mary.

His father was a much-decorated soldier and was to become a Brigadier in World War II in command of the 1st Parachute Brigade in North Africa.

Unlike his father and brother following army careers, he was keen on joining the RAF and went to Halton as an apprentice in 1937.

On leaving he was selected for aircrew and sent to Canada for training.

When he returned to England he flew Whitley, Stirling Albemarle and Halifax aircraft.

He was at first detached to Ringway for parachute dropping training and then took part in a variety of operations, including Special Operation Executive work in Europe and Norway, glider towing during D-Day, Operation Market Garden (Arnhem) and Operation Varsity in March 1945, the largest airborne operation in history conducted in a single day.

After that he was posted to Palestine and on his return married Sheila. He went on to the experimental establishment at RAF Beaulieu where he flew many types of aircraft.

He then had tours on Wellingtons, Lincolns and the Canberra jetbomber prior to converting to the Vickers Valiant.

When he finished flying Sqn Ldr Flavell was engaged in aircrew selection, a two-year posting to Aden and a staff position at the Ministry of Defence. On leaving the RAF he was involved with property work at Chelsea Cloisters, holiday properties in Portugal and importing Portuguese marble.

In Shipton he was involved in hospital patient transport work and RAFA welfare work, for which he was made life vice-president.

His daughter died in 1990 and his wife in 2001.

He is survived by a son Roger and daughter Dee, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.