With video: Fitting farewell for Eastbourne war veteran Robert Argyle as 100 strangers attend funeral (From The Argus)
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With video: Fitting farewell for Eastbourne war veteran Robert Argyle as 100 strangers attend funeral
A fitting farewell was given to a forgotten war veteran after a call for funeral attendees went viral.
Second World War pilot Robert Argyle, 92, who had no family or close friends, died in Eastbourne on November 27.
His funeral had been scheduled for yesterday with only his carers set to attend.
However, an online campaign resulted in about 100 guests from all over Sussex descending on Eastbourne Crematorium to pay their respects.
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Joe O’Riordon, president of the Polegate Royal British Legion, said: “I’m here to pay my respects to a fellow serviceman.
“It would have been awful for a man to have gone with no one here to see him off.
“For me, it’s that he was a Bomber Command, and Bomber Command unlike any other British forces lost nearly 50%. About 55,000 died – that’s phenomenal.
“It’s that, plus this particular chap came from Canada to England which was then knownas the mother country – that gives it an added significance for me.”
The Bomber Command pilot moved from his native Canada at the start of the Second World War in 1939 to join the Royal Air Force.
He found himself involved in missions all over Europe in which many of his close friends were killed.
Bomber Command played a crucial role in ending the war, but both sides suffered huge fatalities, with 55,573 crew members losing their lives.
Mr Argyle lived the last five years of his life at St Clement’s Court sheltered housing in Framfield Way.
Before he died, the 92-year-old requested just a simple ceremony but left very clear instructions on what hymns and readings he wanted, including the hymn Be Still for the Presence of the Lord, all six verses of Psalm 23 The Lord Is My Shepherd, and You Raise Me Up by Westlife.
But after learning of his death, The Royal British Legion set about arranging an appropriate send-off.
Mr Argyle’s hearse was lead into the crematorium accompanied by the sound of bagpipes.
At 2pm a Tiger Moth biplane in full RAF livery flew over the crematorium in honour of the pilot.
Four members of the Royal British Legion Riders also travelled to Eastbourne to say goodbye.
Martin Johnson, 61, of Pulborough, served in the Army for 25 years.
“In the services, that is your family – we look upon it like a brotherhood,” explained Mr Johnson.
“He is our brother so we have come along with many other people to pay our respects and show our support.”
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