War Veteran Almost "Flies West" Unnoticed
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By Fg Off K Wright - 218 (Rotherham) Squadron
After an appeal from the Rotherham branch of the RAF Association, Cadets from 218 Squadron joined hundreds of people in attending the funeral of a WW2 veteran who died with no surviving family members.
Former RAF pilot George Thompson died on 14 May, aged 96, at the care home where he spent the final few years of his life.
Concerned that the veteran would not be given a proper send-off as he had no surviving relatives and few friends, the RAFA members commenced a campaign to urge members of the public to join in the service at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium in Sheffield.
We were joined by current and former members of the RAF, Cadets from other squadrons, Navy and Marine Cadet members, police, fire service, other veterans, serving HM Forces personnel and standard bearers to form a guard of honour. The funeral was attended by hundreds of people who had never met Thompson, hoping to give him a proper goodbye.
Speakers broadcasted the service so those standing outside could hear the ceremony taking place inside the crematorium. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight had a message of remembrance read out and the poem ‘Flying West’ was recited.
The tribute to WO George Thompson stated that he began training as a pilot on 13 April, 1942, and flew his first solo flight just 17 days later.
During his time as a pilot he flew bombers in the USA and Canada before training to become a night fighter, where he was deployed to look for Japanese incursions over the Burmese Jungle until the end of the war in 1945. After leaving the RAF the following year, he married his wife Wilfred Mildred, who passed away in 2004. The couple did not have any children together.