By the age of 19, Stan Franks had completed 31 missions over Germany during the Second World War. At 88 years old, Stan Franks was found dead in his Fobbing, Essex home where he lived alone. He was found after his neighbors became concerned about his welfare and they had asked for law enforcement officials to inquire about his well being.
Franks was set to have a pauper’s funeral because he has no known relatives to take care of arrangements. In a surprising turn of events, locals ran a fund-raising campaign to give Franks a proper funeral–one befitting a war veteran and local hero.
The president of Thurrock Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) told The Telegraph, “We are all overwhelmed by the community’s support for Stan and for digging so deep into their pockets to ensure he has a fitting funeral.
“I would like to express the thanks from friends of Stan and his colleagues.
“Stan’s death happened in sad circumstances but that sadness has been lifted by the generosity and kindness of so many people who will ensure Stan has the send-off he deserves.”
The funeral will take place on December 13th at 2:40 pm at Pitsea crematorium.
As a tribute, a Spitfire will fly past the location to commemorate Franks’ heroic efforts during the war.
Locals will be lining the route to the cemetery from Frank’s local pub, the Five Bells, at 2:20 pm before passing though the center of Pitsea.
Stephanie Dwyer, 61, has worked at the pub for 27 years. She spoke kindly of Franks and shared that the locals became concerned about his well-being when he failed to come in for his daily lunchtime visit.
She said: “I phoned a neighbour and said go and knock on Stan’s door as nobody had seen him since the Saturday and this was the Tuesday.
“The police were called and the backdoor was open and they found him.
“The air ambulance was called and landed in the pub car park before rushing him to the hospital.”
Unfortunately, Franks’ final flight proved to be in vain. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital on October 31.
Ms Dwyer added: “We think he died from a heart attack.
“He had been coming here for years and years, he was well loved and he liked to have an opinion.
“He was a funny man and always ready to have a friendly chat. He would chat to soldiers about his experiences in the war but he didn’t dwell on the past and he was proud of what he had done.
“He was a well-loved character and we are all going to miss him.”
Franks flew 31 missions over Germany during 1944 and 1945 and served in Lancaster Bombers of 15 Squadron from RAF Mildenhall.
In 2010 he ws one of the small group of men who traveled to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. There they would be reunited with a Lancaster bomber and was honored by present-day airmen.