Hundreds Show Up for Funeral of Family-less WWII Veteran

BONDED THROUGH SERVICE FOR THE COUNTRY - (Above) Hundreds, about 600 or 700, turned up for the funeral of WWII veteran Harold Percival all because of retired sergeant Rick Clement's plea; (Below) The man responsible for bringing in the crowd, Sgt. Clement (in sitting position)
BONDED THROUGH SERVICE FOR THE COUNTRY – (Above) Hundreds, about 600 or 700, turned up for the funeral of WWII veteran Harold Percival all because of retired sergeant Rick Clement’s plea; (Below) The man responsible for bringing in the crowd, Sgt. Clement (in sitting position)

33-year-old Sgt. Rick Clement was not related in anything to Harold Percival. He never even met the man, not even once. But still, he felt strongly compelled to attend the man’s funeral last November 11 in northwest England — especially after learning that Percival is a family-less WWII veteran.

Clement was a serviceman himself. He’s a retired British Armed Forces member who had lost both of his legs to an Afghanistan explosion in 2010. He had come upon Percival’s death notice in a local newspaper  and it really caught his attention as it had noted that the 99-year-old WWII airman passed away without any family.

“I just felt so bad…that someone was going to have a funeral after serving their country, which is really personal to me, and wasn’t going to get the send-off he should have got,” Clement said in an interview with Today News.

So, Clement used the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to his advantage a few days before Percival’s funeral service was to take place and put up this call:

“Need a big favor from any military or ex-serving members. This fallen soldier at 99 years old is having a funeral on Monday. It says he has no family to attend in Lytham St Anne’s — if you’re in the area, give him the send-off he deserves.”

Clement thought he could get some of the soldiers who served in his former regiment and were around to attend. But he never expected the the outcome of his call would be huge.

Clement’s plea brought about national media attention that upon Percival’s funeral, he saw overwhelming numbers of crowds – servicemen and veterans from each branch – who took time to attend the event — he gauged the number to be close to 600 or 700.

As they waited for Percival’s coffin by lining the route where it was to pass with regiment flags in their hands. When the WWII veteran’s hearse appeared, they saluted to pay homage. A bugle was also played the “Last Post”, a traditional piece of the British Military.

“It’s probably the biggest, proudest thing I’ve ever been involved in. Seeing everybody come together for somebody in the armed forces — there’s nothing that could be a bigger thank you to me and anyone else who served in the army around the world in these conflicts than seeing support like that,” Clement stated.

Wheelchair-bound Clement has rather become a spokesperson for UK’s wounded veterans – after all, he did found the charity, A Soldiers Journey, to raise funds to provide them with wheelchairs as well as transportation services.

Clement believes that the British’ recent commemoration of Remembrance Day (November 11) played a part in the success off his plea in behalf of the WWII veteran. As he put it:

“It’s a time when the whole country was already thinking about (those) lost in battle and injured and such.”

Personally, though, Percival’s story tugged at his heart as the former reminded him of his grandfather who also was a WWII veteran.

“He got a good funeral and send-off when he died,” Clement said. “I felt (Percival) deserved the same.”

The Today News reports