RAF Police Association members forming a Guard of Honour at the funeral of Henry Allingham - born June 6 1896 and died 18 July 2009. He served in the Royal Naval Air Service in the first world war followed by service in the RAF when the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps amalgamated on 1st April 1918. RAFPA guard members taking part were Tony Harbour - Ted Hellewell - Peter Barr - Terry Bryant - Archie Heath - Frank Wright (all of the South Downs Branch) and John Paice of the Hants and Dorset Branch. Both branch standards were on display. Some twenty members, including wives, attended this most memorable occasion.

One year, one month and one day after I first met Harry Patch I was standing silently with 1400 others in the beautiful 1100 year old Cathedral of Wells in Somerset to say thank you for my freedom and a final farewell to an ordinary man who was quite extraordinary-as was his generation and colleagues, now gone forever.

I met Harry Patch, a Somerset Plumber, family man and for 120+ days on the frontline in Passé dale a WW1 Lewis gunner with three mates. He was 110 years old at the time I shook hands with him and listened to his low volume voice and admired his lovely smile. He recognised the WW1 war medals I was wearing on my right breast (my Grandfather’s) as the same ones that he was wearing on his left breast. Harry was in Weston super Mare to launch the RBL Poppy Appeal at the Veterans Day event in the Italian Gardens. I and some of my Aden Veteran Colleagues were staffing an information gazebo and collecting for the H4H charity alongside the Somerset H4H Merchandising Manager. I recall we collected some £382.00 for the charity despite the awful weather. Tony Lake and ‘Badger’ were also there staffing the RAF Police Association gazebo.

I explained that my grandfather was a medic (RAMC) in WW1 and he spoke of his need for such a person when he was seriously wounded in the groin following an air burst-shrapnel injury-the remaining shrapnel killing all three of his Lewis Gunner team mates.

So one year, one month and one day later I watched as his Union Flag draped coffin was borne into the hushed cathedral by six 19 yr old soldiers (Harry’s wish to mirror his age whilst on the front), followed by six soldiers from Belgium, France and Germany dressed in immaculate European uniforms and wearing snow white gloves. As I gazed across at the procession a cold shiver commenced at the base of my spine and passed up through to the crown of my head in seconds. I was obliged to clean my glasses at this point as tears were blotting out the view. There followed an amazing one and quarter hour service that truly reflected Harry’s life and wishes. Some 2000 others watched and listened to all this outside on an extremely large TV screen on Cathedral Green.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met Harry Patch in 2008 and even more so to have been given to opportunity attend his historic funeral in the lovely Somerset City of Wells.

Alan F Millership,JP,FoCoL