Death of WWII Airman Honored by Complete Strangers

When a WWII airman recently passed away with few surviving family members, there were concerns that his funeral might be relatively empty. This concern turned out to be unfounded, however, as hundreds of people actually turned up to honor the man. While these people were predominantly strangers to the WWII airman, they were aware of his service to the Royal Air Force and wanted to honor him as a hero.

One of the last of Sidney Marshall’s surviving family members died in 2013 at the passing of his wife, Elizabeth Marshall. His own death was due to natural causes, at the age of ninety. In life, Marshall worked on a Lancaster bomber as a gunner and flight sergeant, and participated in nearly thirty missions. The WWII airman was one of many active participants in the Normandy landings, which just celebrated their seventieth anniversary this past month. Along with the large number of civilians who turned up, his funeral was also attended by other veterans and members of the Royal Air Force.

Of Marshall’s few surviving family members, one of them was his younger brother Bill. Bill Marshall is a fellow veteran of the Royal Air Force, and was also Marshall’s eulogizer. He sang high praise for Marshall as both a WWII airman and as a brother, noting that Marshall seldom bragged about the many operations in which he flew. He also elaborated on some of his brother’s missions, which ranged from the destruction of a battleship to the bombing of a simple sausage factory, the Mail Online reports.

Marshall’s brother was surprised by the funeral’s turnout. Although he thought of his brother as a great man, he had not anticipated more than a handful of men from the Royal Air Force to attend. The funeral for the WWII airman was largely put together by the undertaker, Eddie Jacobs, who requested as high a turnout as possible. As a result, over half a thousand people showed up to honor Marshall in his passing.

Sidney Marshall was a highly qualified WWII airman who took part in numerous successful operations. His funeral was certainly deserving of a decent turnout, though his brother believes that he never would have expected the actual number of attendees who showed up. Even though not much of his family remains alive, the death of WWII airman certainly did not go unnoticed, and his passing received the reverent tribute that his service had earned.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE