Military send-off for war veteran

A guard of honour was performed outside the church.

A guard of honour was performed outside the church.

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Hundreds of kind-hearted strangers have turned out to pay their respects to a WWII solider who died with no family members.

Former Burniston resident Richard 'Dick' Norris, a soldier who fought in the famous Battle of El Alamein, died at the age of 97 two weeks ago.

Around 200 people attended the funeral of veteran Richard Norris.

Around 200 people attended the funeral of veteran Richard Norris.

Around 200 people filled All Saints Parish Church in Driffield yesterday (October 17) and a guard of honour was performed outside after a social media appeal was launched to find mourners.

Members of the public, veterans and military association standards were in attendance - including a number of regiments of the Royal Tank Regiment Association, different branches of the the Royal British Legion (RBL), the Royal Armed Forces and the Prince of Wales Own Yorkshire Regiment.

Robin Ellwood, who served in the RAF from 1971-1976 as an air photography operator, had taken two buses and a train to travel alone all the way from Darlington, Durham.

The 63-year-old, who now works as an actor and is also a member of the RBL, said: "I live in Darlington, but I am self employed and I had some free time today so it's nothing to come here and pay my respects to the man.

Veterans and military association standards were in attendance

Veterans and military association standards were in attendance

"I was surprised by the turnout. There were a few people outside when I arrived and I thought that would be it, but when I walked in after the coffin, there were people who were already sitting in the church.

"I probably could count on both hands how many people there were who actually knew him in there - two friends and five carers."

Robin, a divorced father-of-one, runs a Facebook group called 'Veterans Honoured', which encourages people to attend funerals of ex-members of the armed forces. He said: "We often do not know if there is going to be a family representative there."

Mr Norris, born in Leeds, West Yorks., joined his local Territorial Army group in 1939. He fought Rommel's Afrika Korps at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942 i Egypt.

Many turned out following a social media appeal was launched to find mourners.

Many turned out following a social media appeal was launched to find mourners.

He was then stationed with the 8th Army in Egypt before moving to Palestine as an instructor in the base workshops with the rank of Staff Sergeant.

After the war, he returned to his role as a type operator with the Yorkshire Post newspaper before retiring in 1982.

Two members of the Royal Tank Regiment Association drove together from Leeds, West Yorks., to hold their standards at his funeral.

Kevin 'Hocky' Haque, who served in the First Royal Tank Regiment from 1975-1983, said: "I think the amount of different standards there were great. Dick would be really pleased that his regiment was there. We are all one big family."

The 59-year-old, who works as a freelance photographer, added: "A few years back, there would only be a few people who would come to these types of funerals, but now there are more who would come and pay their respects to those who served for their country.

"Attitudes have started to change a lot in the past few years."

Paul Ramsay, who is the branch secretary of the Scarborough branch of the Royal Tank Regiment Assocation, said: "I wasn't surprised by the turnout today. Social media has changed everything. But, I also expected a good turnout because that is what military people do - we are a family."

The 63-year-old added: "Dick would be extremely proud, especially because members of his regiment were here."

It is believed a second cousin of Mr Norris' was also in attendance at the funeral, but they had never met each other.