War vet­eran Lionel was a ‘real life hero’

Tributes paid to ex-sol­dier and a ‘true gentle­men’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Alexan­der Ballinger

A RUISLIP Se­cond World War vet­eran, who was at the cen­tre of a huge com­mu­nity ef­fort af­ter his life sav­ings were stolen, has passed away aged 93.

Lionel Lake hit the head­lines in 2015 when he was tar­geted by heart­less bur­glars who took his life sav­ings while he slept.

The thieves were never caught, but within hours of the story be­ing pub­lished a crowd­fund­ing page was set up and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity raised thou­sands of pounds for Lionel in a touch­ing show of sol­i­dar­ity.

Since the great grand­fa­ther passed away on Wed­nes­day Novem­ber 9, there has been a mass out­pour­ing of grief over the ‘real life hero’s’ death.

Alan Palmer, who runs a crime aware­ness group for the Ruislip and East­cote area Face­book page, and who came up with the idea to fundraise for Lionel, said: “The per­son who bur­gled our hero was never caught, but good came from the bad as our com­mu­nity came to­gether.

“Lionel de­scribed the com­ing to­gether event as one of the best in his life.

“We all loved you Lionel.

“Please re­mem­ber him over the com­ing days. He was and al­ways will be our hero.”

An­other mourner said: “So sad. Love and thoughts are with his friends and fam­ily at this very sad time.

“Rest in peace Lionel.”

Lionel was de­scribed as ‘a truly amaz­ing man’, ‘one in a mil­lion’ and ‘a true gen­tle­man’.

In April 2015, the thieves broke into Lionel’s shel­tered hous­ing flat in Howletts Lane, Ruislip, af­ter he had gone to bed at around 9pm.

The 91-year-old woke at around 1am to find thieves had snatched £5,000 in cash he had saved over many years to pass on to his chil­dren.

Speak­ing at the time, Lionel said: “I’d saved this for years and years as a lit­tle nest egg for my two boys and two girls to make sure I leave them some­thing. Now it’s all gone.

“I’m shocked how the blink­ing hell they could have done it.”

But just two days af­ter the fundrais­ing page was launched, ev­ery penny that Lionel had lost in the bur­glary had been raised by gen­er­ous read­ers.

A to­tal of £6,632 was raised by 421 peo­ple, with the ex­cess money be­ing do­nated to the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion and Help for Heroes, as Lionel had asked.

Lionel was born in Wat­ford and joined the Home Guard aged 15, be­fore he joined the army’s Ri­fle Bri­gade (Prince Con­sort’s Own) two years later.

In 1944 he took part in the D-Day Land­ings in Nor­mandy as a lance cor­po­ral, where he was knocked un­con­scious by a mor­tar in Falaise.

He re­ceived four medals for his ser­vice.

The re­tired printer spent seven years in Aus­tralia in the 1960s with his wife Doris and chil­dren Penny, Wes­ley, Julie and Gary.

Lionel’s wife passed away in 2010, aged 88.

De­spite foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tions and wit­ness ap­peals by the Metropoli­tan Po­lice, the bur­glars were never caught. Lionel called the pub­lic re­sponse to the theft ‘mar­vel­lous’ and said he could not get over it.

‘ONE IN A MIL­LION’: Lionel Lake who died on Novem­ber 9; (be­low) his medals re­ceived serv­ing in the Se­cond World War; (be­low left) pic­tured with grand daugh­ter Sally Fitzger­ald

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