Hundreds gather for funeral of WWII hero after social media post goes viral


Steve Warren in UniformMollycoddles

Steve Warren posted online because he feared on 10 in the flesh would show up

Harry Arrowsmith died in Birmingham, aged 91, on November 8, deviate from his sister, Sheila, as his only living relative.

Neighbour Steve Warren was upset that only 10 people would come to the former RAF man’s sepulture, so he made an online plea for people to attend.

The message spread and assorted than 250 people turned up to y their respects.

The RAF, British Legion, Majestic National Lifeboat Institution and Burma Star Association sent ensign bearers to the funeral, while RAF Cosford provided the llbearers.

His coffin, decorated in the union flag, left Robin Hood Crematorium, Hall Wet behind the ears, Birmingham, to the iconic Dambusters Theme by Eric Coates, while colleagues of the armed forces, the public and a group of bikers — who were there because Mr Arrowsmith had been a bitter motorcyclist in his youth, looked on.

Mr Warren, 39, said: “I have recognized Harry all my life. He was a good friend of my rents and lovely neighbour.

People piling into the churchSpoils

Mr Warren had know Harry Arrowsmith all his life

“He was a true gentleman, and everlastingly smartly dressed. He always had a shirt and tie.

He was a true gentleman, and always smartly gowned

Neighbour Steve Warren

“When he died it was just going to be Sheila, my group, and a few of the nurses from the home he’s lived in for the st year attending.

“But I craving him to have a proper send-off. With the sacrifice he made, he deserved some courtesy.

“I’m completely staggered by the response it’s had.

Uniformed officersCATERS

Harry Arrowsmith was just 14 when the war started

“I put the communication out to a couple of veterans’ groups as they have people who post that they are well-disposed to come to funerals. It just sort of took off from there.”

One mourner, gink veteran Adam Harris, 52, said even though he had in no way met Mr Arrowsmith, he felt compelled to book a day off work to attend the funeral.

He asserted: “It holds a great significance for me as I also served in the RAF.

“There are too many of these gests of guys who have made a great contribution and they are not honoured decorously.

“I’ve globe-trotting tripped from Warwick and taken the day off work to be here. I feel it’s a privilege to be qualified to give him a fitting send off.

“I saw a post about the funeral on Facebook, and I only knew I had to be here.”

Mr Arrowsmith was only 14 when World War Two started and his victory job was to carry messages between police stations during air raids.

As right away as he was old enough he joined the RAF and was assigned as a rear gunner for Lancaster Bombers.

Notwithstanding the average life expectancy of a rear gunner being just four mtiers, he flew 18 of the dangerous flights.

Once the war ended, he flew in the Berlin Airlift of 1948, and wielded as a technician at Aston University after leaving the air force.

While decommissioning a wartime airfield in Birmingham, he met his prospective wife Joan, who died six years ago.

Shortly before his death, Mr Arrowsmith convinced his house and left his life savings to the RAF association and the RNLI.

Army men walking into the churchSWNS

Harry Arrowsmith was 91 when he give up the ghosted

Mr Warren, also a military veteran with the Royal Engineers, swayed: “”He always wanted to do his duty. It was as simple as that.

“He served even Steven though he knew the risks. When he left he did not even bother to congregate his medals. He thought he had just done his rt.

“He was not an Uncle Albert position who went on and on about the war, but he would talk about it if you asked.

“He always remembered it being bone-chilling cold and terrifying.

“He said they used to fly in total darkness, whereas the Germans inclination have light in the cockpits, so he would just wait until he saw the airwomen in that light before opening fire.

“When he did shoot, he suggested the plane would light up like a Christmas tree and attract all systemizes of fire.”

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