Military personnel out in force for farewell to Second World War hero, 99

Servicemen and women lined the route for a 99-year-old Second World War hero's final journey.

Military personnel lined the route at the funeral of Wilfred George Dawson, 99, a wireless operator and air gunner in RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War
Military personnel lined the route at the funeral of Wilfred George Dawson, 99, a wireless operator and air gunner in RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War

The funeral of Wilfred George Dawson took place at Telford Crematorium on Saturday on what would have been his 100th birthday, and he was seen off in fitting style by family, friends and military personnel.

A social media plea for people to attend the funeral of Mr Dawson - who was a wireless operator and air gunner during the war with RAF Bomber Command - resulted in members of the RAF Association, local cadets, and other service personnel turning out to provide a guard of honour as he arrived. His coffin was draped in a Union Jack flag, and standard bearers stood to attention as people entered the crematorium, with Vera Lynn's White Cliffs of Dover playing.

Members of Mr Dawson's family shared tales of his life, including how they have treasured pictures of him in his military days thanks to him winning a camera in a game of poker with RAF pals. Many of those photographs were shown, with Elgar's Nimrod from the Enigma Variations playing for a moment of reflection.

It was said that for a long time Mr Dawson didn't talk about his time in the war, but in more recent years he opened up to granddaughter Susie Phillips for his memoirs. He also enjoyed trips to RAF Cosford with family in his later years, regaling stories and knowledge to museum volunteers.

The poem Lancaster, written by ex-630 Squadron member Walt Scott, who flew during the Second World War in the same role as Mr Dawson, was then read, followed by an adapted version of the Irish Blessing.

A bugler played The Last Post, before the famous Second World War era song We'll Meet Again by Vera Lynn played as people departed.

Mr Dawson was born in Smethwick, but more recently lived at Willows Care Home in Codsall.

During the war he had been based in Egypt and Malta and flew on Lancaster and Wellington planes.

Mr Dawson was married to Winifred, who also died at the age of 99. Mrs Dawson was originally from Oldbury and served with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), and they met while they were both posted in Lincoln.

Mrs Phillips described her grandfather as her 'hero'.

Alistair Park, chairman of Wrekin and Wellington RAF Association, insisted the group wanted to "pull out all the stops" to make sure his service was not forgotten.

Mrs Phillips started a fundraiser for the The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund in her grandfather's memory, and anyone who wishes to support the cause can do so at justgiving.com/fundraising/susie-phillips5

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