Facebook appeal brings dozens to 'war hero' funeral

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Media captionCrowds of people gathered for the funeral of ex-serviceman John Davies, 94, after it emerged he had no family to attend the service

About 100 people responded to a Facebook appeal and turned out for the funeral of a "war hero" who died without any surviving family.

John Davies, 94, died earlier this month after spending his final years at a care home in Gorleston, Norfolk.

He served in World War Two, in North America and India, but only a few people had been expected to attend his burial until the social media appeal.

Mick Smith, who backed the Facebook plea, said it was a "fitting funeral".

Mr Smith, from Newmarket, Suffolk, spotted a message on a serviceman's forum post and then shared it with all his friends as he felt it was "sad" the funeral would be so poorly attended.

The life of John Davies

Mr Davies was born and bred in Burgh Castle, near Great Yarmouth, and left school at 14 to work on a poultry farm for seven shillings a week.

He was a hotel chef in London before and after World War Two, and later a maintenance engineer at The Star Hotel in Great Yarmouth until his retirement.

He continued to work into his mid-80s, running a market stall selling CDs in aid of the Caister Lifeboat.

"I saw a posting on social media and it didn't seem to be getting a lot of attention, so I pushed it out to everyone I knew," said Mr Smith.

"Such a big character - he must have known so many people - he did charity work and in his time everyone would have known him, but they forget because he goes into a home.

"It's a fitting funeral for a war hero - someone who built this country."

Mr Davies had two brothers and two sisters, who all died before him, and never married after missing his planned wartime wedding due to an overseas posting.

Image copyright Gables Care Home
Image caption John Davies was engaged during the war but a reposting to North Africa meant he lost touch with his fiancée
Image caption Mr Davies' coffin was escorted from Great Yarmouth to the Gorleston cemetery by a group of bikers
Image caption Standard bearers led the funeral procession into the cemetery

His hearse was escorted from Great Yarmouth by a group of bikers, including Mr Smith, to Gorleston's Magdalen Lawn cemetery.

Standard bearers led the procession into the graveyard, before the Reverend Albert Cadmore took the short graveside service.

"It is good that while he outlived his family, so many have come here today to pay tribute to him," said Mr Cadmore.

Friend Beryl Baker, who lived with him at The Gables care home, said: "He was a lovely man and a good friend and I miss him very much.

"It was nice to see all these people come and say goodbye."

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