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Hundreds at funeral of Telford Dambusters RAF couple who died 10 days apart - with video

By Mat Growcott | Telford | News | Published:

More than 300 people turned out for the funeral of a Telford couple who were married for nearly 70 years and died within just 10 days of each other.

Friends of Victor and Edna Barnett were worried that there would be a low turnout for their funeral, because they had no surviving family – but the RAF community made sure that didn't happen.

People from Shropshire, the West Midlands and beyond travelled to a packed Telford Crematorium to give the couple the send-off they deserved.

The venue was packed, with dozens more people standing at the back or outside listening to the service over speaker.

Huge turn-out for RAF couple's funeral

The main car park was soon full of wellwishers, and motorists were made to park on the long driveway leading to the crematorium and even the central reservation of the nearby A5.

Lines of RAF personnel stood to attention as the hearse arrived outside Telford Crematorium. Pallbearers – all male for Victor and all female for Edna – carried the couple in together.

It was a fitting tribute for the couple, who had a long history with the RAF.

Victor, who was 101, was a Royal Air Force flight sergeant and highly respected radar technician who served on 617 Squadron at the time of the Dambusters Raid.

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Old pictures of Victor and Edna
Victor and Edna

Edna, 91, was in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and worked in air traffic control.

Victor, who was known as VJ, died on December 21, with Edna following him on New Year's Eve. The couple had been married for 68 years.

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Anna Bliss, who worked at Bournville House where the couple lived, said: "They were an absolutely amazing couple, absolutely devoted to one another. He was her Victor.

"He used to get up at 3.30am to make them breakfast, even in the last few months. She was blind, he was deaf. They were married forever. They were a gorgeous couple.

Proud

"I think think they'd be very happy with the amount of people who turned up, and proud of what they've done in the past. They would be pleased that so many people came out for them."

RAF Cosford put out the call for people to attend the funeral on social media, and said they were thrilled with the number of people who turned up.

Squadron Leader Chris Wilson, media manager for RAF Cosford, said: "It's been an amazing turnout.

"It's nice to see so many members of the public who have answered the call that we put out on social media. People have come from Shropshire, the West Midlands and further afield to make sure Victor and Edna have a good turnout to their funeral.

Pallbearers carrying Victor's coffin

"You can hope for a big turn out, because you want as many people to come out as possible, but to stand here now to see that everybody is listening to speakers outside, it's perfect. It's such a lovely thing for Victor and Edna.

"I always say that once you're in the Royal Air Force, you're always part of the Royal Air Force family. Funerals are usually very private affairs, they're family affairs, so we don't get to come to them unless we're invited. To find these two wonderful people who did so much for their country but had no surviving family, this was the least we could do to try and make sure they were looked after."

Les Smith, 67, who lives in Shifnal, said: "I had to come and see them off. I saw the story in the paper and wanted to do my bit to make sure they got the send off they deserved.

"They were together for such a long, and it's so sad that they died within a few weeks of one another, but I like to think they would have been happy with how many people are here today."

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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