Hundreds of strangers mourn veteran with no family after online appeal

posted at 9:51 pm on November 11, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

A touching story:

It began with a tiny notice placed by undertakers in a Lancashire newspaper: “Harold died peacefully in Alistre Lodge Nursing Home on 25th October 2013, aged 99 years. A single man, he has no close family who can attend his funeral. Served in RAF Bomber Command as ground crew in world war two. Any service personnel who can attend his funeral service would be appreciated.”

The notice was picked up last Friday by Sgt Rick Clement, who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan in 2010. “Need a big favour from any military or ex serving members …” began his tweet.

The appeal went viral.

Hundreds showed up on Armistice Day for Harold Jellicoe “Coe” Percival:

The Guardian:

Uniformed veterans, teenage air cadets and serving soldiers joined members of the public, including a lad in wellies from a nearby carwash. One man, his jacket heavy with medals, clutched his toddler tightly, thumbing away tears as Lytham Community Choir sang Jerusalem. Clement was there, too, in his wheelchair.

So few people were expected that the pallbearers had been considering staying in the chapel to make up the numbers. But on the day, it was standing room only in the crematorium, with well over 200 mourners left outside.

A little about the man himself:

Matron Janet Wareing said: “Harold was a lovely character, very strong-willed and independent.

“He was quite a private man, and he loved reading his Daily Telegraph every morning.

“We have already been contacted by military veterans who are intending to come, even though they have never met him.

“We’ve been told one group is looking to bring around 200 people to the service, which would be fantastic.”

Davis Boothman, secretary for the RAF Association Layland branch, said he would ring friends and colleagues in an effort to gain additional support.

He said: “We normally do try and make a showing at these times.

“It is important that we remember people like Harold – they are part of us.”

More pictures here.

Mr. Percival’s story is a poignant reminder to thank and treasure our veterans while they’re here.

In that spirit, thank you to all of those who have served. We can only live free because you’re willing to stand guard.

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That’s trly awe-inspiring and humbling, best news of the day.

Jeddite on November 11, 2013 at 9:55 PM

THIS is America!

Stuff it, Progressive scum in the Media and DC.

PappyD61 on November 11, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Wow! Very neat. This veteran is humbled. ..

ted c on November 11, 2013 at 9:55 PM

PappyD61 on November 11, 2013 at 9:55 PM

UK

cozmo on November 11, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Very nice that so many strangers would attend to honor this man.

The Doolittle Raid survivors just met for the last time too, only four left and one of them couldn’t attend their final reunion. They cracked a bottle of 1896 Cognac set aside for that very moment and they all agreed it would be the last as they are in their 90′s.

These old vets are disappearing quickly now, talk to them while you can.

Bishop on November 11, 2013 at 10:00 PM

cozmo on November 11, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Beat me to it.

Charlemagne on November 11, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Gor he made the tea…that in itself was a major contribution to the winning the war against Jerry….seriously.

JFKY on November 11, 2013 at 10:01 PM

…what a story!…very appropriate…

Mr. Percival’s story is a poignant reminder to thank and treasure our veterans while they’re here.

…and THANK YOU VETERANS!

KOOLAID2 on November 11, 2013 at 10:03 PM

Giving, charity, respect for the military, honor for something greater than the power of the state….all uniquely American……

…..and yet found in pockets of humanity all around the world where the gift of each soul is valued.

Something the Progressive left really never understands, just mocks.

PappyD61 on November 11, 2013 at 10:04 PM

Bishop on November 11, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Saw that story. And the display for the bottle and engraved silver cups. Kind of sad to see all those cups turned upside down in their case last time I was there.

cozmo on November 11, 2013 at 10:04 PM

Tears are falling. Wish the hell I could’ve been there to see this fine man off. Good for those who did this for him, special people all.

TXUS on November 11, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Great story. God Bless all the vets…

OmahaConservative on November 11, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Those whom protect and defend our freedoms deserve our unending thanks. In times of peace and in times of war their training, readiness, missions and sacrifices involve dangerous tasks in difficult situations which we know can only be fully appreciated by those whom have been there.

Thanks to those who serve and whom have served.

viking01 on November 11, 2013 at 10:16 PM

Some hope left..

Salute.

wolly4321 on November 11, 2013 at 10:17 PM

Somebody peeling onions?

Thanks for being there for us, Harold.

CurtZHP on November 11, 2013 at 10:19 PM

If you have never read about Doolittles Raid, it’s a good read.

Read it as a kid.

Heroes.

wolly4321 on November 11, 2013 at 10:20 PM

Tears are falling. Wish the hell I could’ve been there to see this fine man off. Good for those who did this for him, special people all.

TXUS on November 11, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Same here. The text is blurry for some reason. God Bless those people that responded. I feel sad that he had no friends or relatives to visit while he was still alive.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 10:22 PM

God Bless you old warrior. Go to the peace you richly deserve.

predator on November 11, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Same here. The text is blurry for some reason. God Bless those people that responded. I feel sad that he had no friends or relatives to visit while he was still alive.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Too bad the nurses didn’t put out an appeal for visitors while he was still alive. I’d have loved to listen to his stories…

OmahaConservative on November 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Bishop on November 11, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Saw that story. And the display for the bottle and engraved silver cups. Kind of sad to see all those cups turned upside down in their case last time I was there.

cozmo on November 11, 2013 at 10:04 PM

From that same article…

Twelve-year-old Joseph John Castellano’s grandparents brought him from their Dayton home.

“This was Tokyo. The odds of their survival were one in a million,” the boy said. “I just felt like I owe them a few short hours of the thousands of hours I will be on Earth.”

12 years old! Such a depth of understanding at his age.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 10:30 PM

God Bless you old warrior. Go to the peace you richly deserve.

predator on November 11, 2013 at 10:24 PM

seconded

SparkPlug on November 11, 2013 at 10:30 PM

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Too bad the nurses didn’t put out an appeal for visitors while he was still alive. I’d have loved to listen to his stories…

OmahaConservative on November 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM

I agree. I’m thinking that may be the situation many find themselves in, especially in Nursing Homes locally.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 10:37 PM

What a beautiful touching story.It restores your faith in humanity.

Hera on November 11, 2013 at 10:40 PM

These old vets are disappearing quickly now, talk to them while you can.

Bishop on November 11, 2013 at 10:00 PM

.
Dittos … big time.

listens2glenn on November 11, 2013 at 10:40 PM

Same here. The text is blurry for some reason. God Bless those people that responded. I feel sad that he had no friends or relatives to visit while he was still alive.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Me, too, but my Dad knows a couple of those guys, too, hence my feelings. Dad was on an amphibious coming into Omaha Beach when a big wave threw him and five of his comrades overboard. The lander couldn’t stop, so they swam for shore with all that weight attached. When they reached the beach, they somehow found one of the ropes that had been planted on the cliffs, and went up it. Three of those boys didn’t make it up the ropes, couldn’t make it up or killed by the Germans, but somehow he and the other guy did. Whatever happened after that my Dad doesn’t want to talk about, but I think it had to do with killing and revenge.

I dare anyone to keep this man or anyone from the WWII museum.

TXUS on November 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Too bad the nurses didn’t put out an appeal for visitors while he was still alive. I’d have loved to listen to his stories…

OmahaConservative on November 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM

I agree. I’m thinking that may be the situation many find themselves in, especially in Nursing Homes locally.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 10:37 PM

Makes me want to call around and find out where the local WWII & Korean War vets are and go visiting…

OmahaConservative on November 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM

I dare anyone to keep this man or anyone from the WWII museum.

TXUS on November 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM

God Bless them…

OmahaConservative on November 11, 2013 at 10:44 PM

I dare anyone to keep this man or anyone from the WWII museum.

TXUS on November 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Oh, I feel the same way about the museums. Your Dad is a member of that special group of Americans, not only by birth but by honor in service. I can understand they don’t want to talk much about war.

I can’t even imagine what they went thru. It must be painful and they may think unless we were there, wouldn’t understand it anyway.

All we can do is appreciate them and marvel at their dedication and courage.

God Bless your Dad and all our Veterans. I hope they know of our appreciation.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 10:37 PM

Makes me want to call around and find out where the local WWII & Korean War vets are and go visiting…

OmahaConservative on November 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM

I was thinking the same thing. American Legion may be a place to start. Most towns have local posts. I have a couple of Bro-in-laws, that may have some info too. They are Vietnam vets.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 11:08 PM

All we can do is appreciate them and marvel at their dedication and courage.

God Bless your Dad and all our Veterans. I hope they know of our appreciation.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

Yes, but someone in the White House never once appreciated them, in fact probably believes them villains, in some twisted way, as they were protecting an America and a Constitution that the one in the White House disdains from within his soul. It’s so sad to me that this Obama tyrant is probably the last President that my Father and his few remaining friends in valor will ever know.

TXUS on November 11, 2013 at 11:18 PM

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

Yes, but someone in the White House never once appreciated them, in fact probably believes them villains, in some twisted way, as they were protecting an America and a Constitution that the one in the White House disdains from within his soul. It’s so sad to me that this Obama tyrant is probably the last President that my Father and his few remaining friends in valor will ever know.

TXUS on November 11, 2013 at 11:18 PM

That’s all true. I’m sure they are glad that they did not have to serve under this Administration tho. However, when you come down to it, they served for a far greater cause; not any particular person.

I read today on Breitbart that many Veterans are joining the Tea Parties. That was some good news.

bluefox on November 12, 2013 at 12:17 AM

What a great story and how heartening it is that so many people turned out for him.

I also feel sad, though, that he couldn’t experience all that esteem and friendship while he was alive.

PatriotGal2257 on November 12, 2013 at 12:31 AM

I went to Mcdonalds this morning and there was a group of veterans who came in after me. I bought their breakfast for them and talked to them for a few minutes…they were older gentlemen from ww2…happy veterans day

Politricks on November 12, 2013 at 1:17 AM

No one should die unknown,, forgotten.. I think I feared that more than death.. to never have mattered.. forgotten..

I’m gratful he wasn’t forgotten.. especially a man of his time, with so much in the balance, our world would be a very different place but for the Brits sacrifices, our young men’s..

God be with you always Harold Percival RAF,..

we Airmen have to stick together..

mark81150 on November 12, 2013 at 2:39 AM

Godspeed Harold Percival. Mark81150 is right, we Airmen have to stick together. /Salute sir

Mini-14 on November 12, 2013 at 7:10 AM

that brought a tear to my eyes.
well done everyone, well done.

dmacleo on November 12, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Rest at peace soldier….Hand Salute………

crosshugger on November 12, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Makes me want to call around and find out where the local WWII & Korean War vets are and go visiting…

OmahaConservative on November 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM

I was thinking the same thing. American Legion may be a place to start. Most towns have local posts. I have a couple of Bro-in-laws, that may have some info too. They are Vietnam vets.

bluefox on November 11, 2013 at 11:08 PM

Check out your local Elks’ Lodge as well. One of their charities is service to veterans. On Memorial Day, our Lodge went to the veteran’s home in Yountville, CA, and hosted an ice cream social. We also passed out socks and toiletries. Because there were 30 of us from the Lodge, many of us got to spend time with each vet, listening to their stories.

Another interesting point: many of these vets had tablets, using them to watch baseball games and to keep in touch with families. Not too bad for 80 & 90-year-olds!

March Hare on November 12, 2013 at 12:06 PM

We can only live free because you’re willing to stand guard.

Let me be the one to introduce a sour note into this. Our warriors are inadequate to safeguard our freedom! They stand on the ramparts, looking outward, guarding our existence. The threat to our freedom is within the walls, already. *We all* must stand vigilant within our home. We must not let those who would “fundamentally transform” our freedom into servitude succeed! Be vigilant and be strong, and do NOT let them forge our chains!

GWB on November 12, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Godspeed, Harold.

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds –
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of –
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.
“Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand and touched the face of God.”

PJ Emeritus on November 12, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Thanks for posting that, Mary.All over Britain there are remembrance ceremonies on the Sunday nearest Nov 11th. We went to a local one ….also proud that our 15 yr old g’daughter (typical teenager, Taylor Swift fan etc) was on that parade as a RAF cadet

callingallcomets on November 12, 2013 at 3:56 PM