War hero's funeral plea attracts hundreds

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Media captionHarold Jellicoe Percival, 99, died in October, having never married or had children, reports Alex Worsick

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the funeral of a war veteran they never knew after he died with no close friends or relatives around him.

Harold Jellicoe Percival helped with the famous Dambusters raids during the Second World War.

Mr Percival, who served as ground crew with the RAF's Bomber Command, never married and had no children.

The RAF Association has been involved in ensuring that his funeral in Lancashire on Monday is well attended.

Mr Percival, who lived in Penge, south London before joining the RAF, died last month aged 99 at a nursing home in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire.

Those involved in organising the funeral say they have been contacted by veterans' groups and other military supporters keen to acknowledge Mr Percival's career.

Davis Boothman, secretary for the RAF Association Leyland branch, 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."

Mr Percival's nephew, David Worsell, who cannot attend the funeral, said: "He was a private man, he worked in Australia for a number of years as a decorator and would visit England for holidays.

"He travelled around England with only his backpack. He didn't have a postal address, he just used to get everything sent to my mother's address and would go through it when they met up."

'Lovely character'

After working in Australia, Mr Percival retired to England and lived at the Alistre Lodge Nursing and Care Home in Lytham St Annes.

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

"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."

Mr Percival was a distant relative of former British prime minister Spencer Perceval, who was shot dead by a bankrupt broker, John Bellingham, as he entered the House of Commons, in 1812.

Mr Percival's family has told the BBC a nephew, great-nephew and great-niece will be at his funeral service, which takes place at 11:00 GMT on Monday, Armistice Day, at Lytham Park Crematorium.

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