HUNDREDS of people have turned out from across the country to pay their respects to a World War II hero.
It had been feared that decorated RAF veteran Sid Wilson, from Warrington, Cheshire, wouldn’t get the send-off he deserved after he died on September 21, at the age of 103.
Friends of the grandad-of-one – who served in the air force for more than four years – issued a nationwide appeal for servicemen and women past and present to come to the funeral after worrying it would be poorly attended.
But the ceremony at Walton Lea Crematorium today was standing room only after hundreds of veterans flocked to ensure he was remembered properly, with standard bearers holding a poignant guard of honour as the cortege arrived.
Sid’s granddaughter and only remaining family member, Rebecca Wilson, 36, led the procession behind her grandad’s coffin, as young army cadets, serving soldiers and Royal British Legion representatives watched on.
Rebecca said: “I couldn’t have asked for the day to go any better. It’s been absolutely amazing to see how many people turned out to remember grandad, he would have been so honoured.
“I looked after him everyday before he went into the care home, all I wanted was to make the day special for my grandad, I was so worried about everything but the whole day has been fantastic.”
Representatives from the RAF were also in attendance with a bugle player from the RAF association filling the air with traditional military music.
I couldn’t have asked for the day to go any better. It’s been absolutely amazing to see how many people turned out to remember grandad, he would have been so honoured
Sid's granddaughter Rebecca Wilson
Veterans biker groups carried flags and members of the emergency services also gathered to pay respects to the former soldier.
Sid, who was born during the year of the Battle of the Somme and had one son, was a teacher after leaving the RAF, where he served in Italy and Egypt.
After promising Sid that she would organise all the military side of the funeral, friend and army-mum, Julie Francis, 51, from Warrington, appealed to servicemen past and present to turn out and pay their respects to the late veteran.
She said: “I’ve got a strong military background myself, my dad and grandad both served in the forces and my son is still serving now.
“I do a lot of voluntary work with all the veterans in Warrington and I promised Sid for years that when the time came that I’d sort out this side of the funeral and we would give him the send off he deserved.
“There must have been over 120 people, it was absolutely fantastic – the veterans just know what to do, you don’t even need to tell them where to stand or anything, they’re just perfect.
“We had every generation there, from serving soldiers, to young cadets to ex-veterans.”
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Her appeal was heard far and wide, with the Royal British Legion and Biker Veterans both pledging to have representatives show up and commemorate Sid’s long and fulfilled life.
Jenni Martin from the Royal British Legion in Merseyside and Cheshire said: “The Legion is proud to be able to represent the armed forces community on these occasions.
“Remembrance is at the heart of everything we do and our branches will always try to step forward and pay their respects to veterans such as Sid in honour of their unique contribution.”
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