500 turn out to honour war hero

Hundreds of people from across the north east gathered in Whitley Bay today to pay their respects to a local war hero they had never met.

John Campbell died in North Tyneside General Hospital on March 17, at the age of 92.

The funeral of veteran John Campbell at Whitley Bay Crematorium. GM036

The funeral of veteran John Campbell at Whitley Bay Crematorium. GM036

The veteran, who was an acting major in Burma during World War Two and was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry, has no known relatives, and it was feared he would be buried alone.

But the community took to social media to ensure the hero was given the send off he deserved – with around 500 people paying their respects to the veteran.

Veterans and current soldiers from the Fifth Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers joined members of the public who answered the call to attend the funeral at Whitley Bay Crematorium.

Paul Woodward, vice chairman of the Royal British Legion Riders, said: “We feel it’s important that any veteran, no matter who they are, or what their circumstances, is honoured when they pass over.

“He is, in the truest sense, a hero. The word is bandied about a lot these days,and very few people who are called heros are actually heroes, but this man was, so it’s only fitting that there’s a good show for his send off.”

Captain Chris Hall, from the Fifth Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said: “The Fifth Fusiliers count not only their serving members as family but veterans from all regiments, from everywhere.

“Veterans have served their country and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

“He served his country and it’s only right he have a well attended send off and we show our respect to him at his funeral.

“Veterans are welcome to feel part of the family, and are welcome to events to have companionship and support.
“On a Tuesday at St George’s barracks in Newcastle veterans can gather for mutual friendship and support, so they are not isolated.
“We provide a family of support and friendship and can signpost people to professional support.”

Naomi the Flower Girl in North Shields, created a Union Flag flower arrangement for the service as a mark of her respect.