Hun­dreds turn out to hon­our war hero Harry

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART GREER

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

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