Crowds gathered at Grantham Crematorium yesterday to pay their final respects to local war hero Sgt Ray Johnson.
Despite only having three remaining members of family, nearly 200 people turned out following a social media campaign by veterans group Friends of 152 Squadron.
SGT Ray Johnson served throughout the Second World War, from September 1939 to late 1945, as part of the 152 (Hyderbad) Squadron and died on September 3, 2016 just days shy of his 96th birthday.
Jay Beecher, from Peterborough, was offering people lifts to the crematorium from around the county. Afterwards he said: “Endless people from across Peterborough and Grantham turned up to hear stories of a man who, as a little boy, had his tonsels removed by his local doctor on the kitchen table, who stripped a truck and did a gin smuggling run across Calcutta, who was given a gun and told by his officer to “look out for enemy planes” and (when he saw any) to “shoot the b******s down”. A man who fought in the Battle of Britain to defend his country, and a man who lived, loved, and laughed.
“Great turn out for Ray, mostly by people who hadn’t ever met him but who realised that every person has a life story to be celebrated.”
Lyndsey Young, who attended, said: “There was a grand turnout for Sgt Ray Johnson’s service, military, ex-military and civilians, all bidding him final farewell.
“The room was full, as was the cloisters.”