Harold Percival funeral: Over two hundred strangers attend service for veteran after appeal in local newspaper goes viral

Harold Jellicoe Percival, who was a distant relative of Spencer Perceval, served as RAF ground crew with Bomber Command during the Second World War

More than 200 people have attended the funeral of an RAF war veteran they never knew after an appeal for mourners was posted in a local newspaper and went viral on social networks.

Harold Jellicoe Percival, who was a distant relative of Spencer Perceval - the only British prime minister to be assassinated, served as RAF ground crew with Bomber Command during the Second World War.

Boys play with flags before the funeral of Royal Air Force veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival Boys play with flags before the funeral of Royal Air Force veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival

He was part of the ground team who worked with the famous Dambusters squadron No. 617 whose daring raids, which took place in May 1943, destroyed strategically important German dams.

Mr Percival, who died in October aged 99 in a nursing home, had no close family members able to attend the service, never married and never had any children.

A request for people to attend the ceremony, poignantly held at 11am on Armistice Day at a crematorium in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, appeared in a local media before being picked up on social media and promoted by people including the comedian Jason Manford.

Those involved in organising Mr Percival's funeral were contacted by veterans' groups and other military supporters keen to acknowledge Mr Percival's career.

Mr Percival lived in Penge, south London, before joining the RAF. During the war he was based in the north west.

After working in Australia after the war, he later retired to England and lived at the Alistre Lodge Nursing and Care Home in Lytham St Annes. His nephew, David Worsell, is unable to attend the service, but his son - Mr Percival's great nephew - will represent the family.

A two minutes silence is observed around the coffin of Royal Air Force veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival before his funeral service A two minutes silence is observed around the coffin of Royal Air Force veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival before his funeral service

Mr Worsell said: "My uncle would be very surprised at the attention this seems to have received and the number of people wanting to attend.

"What with him being a very private person, forming long-term relationships didn't seem to be part of his make-up.

"He didn't really speak about his military career but he perhaps wished he didn't leave the RAF at the end of the war. But he was a free spirit."

The funeral took place as Britain marked Armistice Day with two minutes silence. 

Acts of remembrance have taken place across the country, including a service at the national Armed Forces Memorial in Staffordshire.

The last surviving First World War widow, Dorothy Ellis, was among the guests at the outdoor event.

The memorial bears the names of more than 16,000 fallen service personnel.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'