Hundreds answer call to attend British WWII veteran’s funeral

The coffin of World War II veteran Harold Percival is carried into Lytham Park Crematorium.
(Nigel Roddis / Getty Images)

When Harold Jellicoe Percival died last month, the British World War II veteran’s obituary mentioned that he had no close family to attend his funeral. But after the obituary went viral, hundreds of people showed up to honor him Monday.

Percival, who served as a member of the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command, died on Oct. 25 at the age of 99. His obituary requested that “any service personnel who can attend his funeral service would be appreciated.”

Its spread across social media brought it to the attention of service members and veterans organizations in Britain, They, in turn, rallied people to attend his funeral and honor his memory on Armistice Day.

Mourners at Harold Percival’s funeral singing Jerusalem. 100 are inside with around 400 more outside.— Nick Garnett (@nicholasgarnett) November 11, 2013

Percival, who left England after the war to work in Australia, retired in his home country and spent his final days in a nursing home in the town of Lytham.


“Harold was a lovely character, very strong-willed and independent,” Janet Wareing, a matron at the Alistre Lodge Nursing and Care Home told the Daily Mirror.

Andrew Colyer-Worrsall, Percival’s nephew, characterized him to the BBC as “an ordinary man who did his duty.”

“We thought there would just be two or three of us, so to see this many hundreds of people turn up is stunning,” he said.