Help give war veteran send-off he deserves

Richard 'Dick' Norris while he was stationed in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Richard 'Dick' Norris while he was stationed in Tel Aviv, Israel.

An appeal has been issued for the public to attend the funeral of a war veteran who has died at the age of 97.

Former Burniston resident Richard ‘Dick’ Norris served his country in World War II and fought in the famous Battle of El Alamein.

His funeral will be held at All Saints Parish Church in Driffield, at 1pm on Monday, October 17, followed by the internment at Driffield Cemetery, where he will be laid to rest beside wife Sybil who died in 2010. With Mr Norris having no known relatives, an appeal has been distributed over social media in the hope of giving him the send-off a veteran deserves.

John Forrester, branch secretary of Driffield Royal British Legion, said: “Veterans passing away with no surviving family seems to be happening more and more. It is important they get a good send-off and I hope people can come along and show their support for Mr Norris.”

Born in the Roundhay area of Leeds, Mr Norris became an apprentice at the Yorkshire Post as a compositor and linotype operator after leaving Leeds Grammar School in June 1935.

He joined the Territorial Army at Otley in 1939 and went to war with the 45th Royal Tank Regiment, which fought at the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt. He was stationed with the 8th Army in Egypt before moving to Palestine where he operated as an instructor at the base workshops with the rank of staff sergeant.

After being demobbed in 1945, Mr Norris returned to the Yorkshire Post until 1963 before moving to Driffield where he owned Kelleythorpe garage and a driving school.

Long-term friend Digby Lovel said: “He was a typical Leeds man – what you see is what you get. We knew each other as we are both petrolheads. He was always talking and playing around with cars, right up until the last couple of years. You name it, he’ll have owned it.”

Mr Norris moved north to Burniston in 1969 where he lived until 1994. During his time in North Yorkshire he worked at Dale Electric (now Dale Power Solutions Ltd) at Eastfield Industrial Estate before moving to Arundale Garage in Scarborough where he was in charge of the workshop.

Digby last saw Mr Norris two weeks before he passed and even then he says the 97-year-old was “as bright as a button”.

“I showed him an old picture of him at Leeds Grammar School and he knew the year it was taken and where he was in the picture immediately. The other picture I showed was him stood with some railing.

“I thought it was Scarborough but he corrected me to say it was taken in Tel Aviv in Israel. He said ‘there’s not a chance you’d get sunshine like that in Scarborough.’”

Following his retirement in 1994, Richard decided to move back to Driffield to live in Taylors Field sheltered housing until he died on October 2.

A Royal Tank Regiment Standard has been located in Scarborough which will be transported over to Driffield for Richard’s funeral.

The silk-brown, red and green typified the struggle of the Corps – ‘From mud, through blood to the green fields beyond’.

“Dick was well liked by those who knew him,” said Digby. “He was a very private person – even his medals didn’t leave their boxes. He loved talking about his time in the army and I hope we can give Richard a good send off that he deserves.”

The funeral will be conducted by Revd John McNaughton, a former Parachute Regiment Padre, and the collection will be divided between the church and the RBL Poppy Appeal.