Hundreds turn out to honour war hero Harry
HUNDREDS of strangers paid their final respects to a war veteran – after fears there may be no mourners at all.
A social media campaign resulted in a stag- gering wave of support to honour Royal Marine veteran Harry Wheeler, who died aged 96.
More than 300 mourn- ers attended his funeral at Macclesfield Crematorium on Thursday, May 18.
Harry’s coffin was draped in a Union Jack flag and arrived in a horse drawn carriage behind a military piper.
The Rev Thomas Crisp, who led the service, paid tribute to the many who took the time to honour Harry. In a eulogy written by friend Mike Jeffers, Harry was described as an ‘extremely lovable man’ who crammed a lot into his life and was ‘an absolute joy to be around’.
The service concluded with The Last Post and Reveille.
As well as dozens of veterans from across the Forces there were representatives from the Royal Marines associations.
Sgt Jim Lynskey, a staff instructor at Royal Marines Reserve Merseyside, said: “Although he lost his birth family and on paper is all alone, his other family from the Royal Marines were there in force. Once a Royal Marine always a Royal Marine.”
Cadets from Tytherington School, representatives from Cheshire Police, former Corrie star Charlie Lawson and local dignitaries including Macclesfield Town Councillors Liz Durham, Janet Jackson and Gareth Jones also paid their respects.
Coun Jones said: “I felt I had to be here to pay my respects to Harry.”
Harry was born in September 1920 and trained to be a joiner and then master carpenter.
He also played for Manchester United’s reserve team. He served in the Royal Marines during the Second World War and was based for some time in Italy. In 1945 Harry married his beloved wife Enid and they had a daughter Susan.
The trio lived in Wilmslow and spent many happy holidays together, particularly in Spain.
Enid sadly passed away in 1997 and Susan in 2001.
Rev Crisp said: “The loss of both Enid and Susan didn’t so much leave Harry alone – for you can’t be alone with so many happy memories – but it did make his life a little emptier perhaps.”
Harry lived independently at his home in Lacey Green until two years ago before moving to Ashfields care home on Prestbury Road, Macclesfield, where he died on May 8.
Friends launched an appeal fearing Harry’s funeral would take place “without a soul in the world” to remember him.
Some of the many civilians who turned out to honour Harry Wheeler, veterans at the service and current Royal Marines form a guard of honour for his coffin
Flag bearers at the service. Inset: Former Royal Marine Harry
Cadets pay their respects at Macclesfield Crematorium