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Appeal to give Sheffield war veteran a lasting memorial

George William Thompson in about 1945.

George William Thompson in about 1945.

Plans have been launched to create a permanent memorial to a Sheffield war hero who died earlier this year.

George Thompson hit the headlines after an appeal for people to attend his funeral.

He fought for his country in World War Two, but passed away with no family members and few surviving friends.

A modest service was transformed into a sensational send-off after The Star joined forces with the Royal Air Force Association to urge people to give the 96-year-old, from Woodseats, the funeral he deserved.

Hundreds of people from around the world gathered at Sheffield’s Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium for his funeral.

And now the Rotherham and District Branch of the RAF Association is hoping to create a last memory to George.

They want to raise enough money to buy a burial plot and headstone for the veteran’s ashes.

Derek Padgett, branch chairman, said: “The RAF Association looks after the RAF family and this doesn’t necessarily end when someone passes away.

“The money we raise through this appeal will be used to fund a burial plot and headstone for George’s ashes.

“As so many people came to honour him at his funeral, we hope this will be a short fundraising campaign and that we will soon have enough for a fitting memorial.”

George worked at Laycock’s Engineering Works, which made aircraft parts before he was eventually accepted into the RAF for pilot training aged 24.

He began his training on April 13, 1942, and just 17 days later flew solo for the first time.

George and his fellow course members were earmarked to fly bombers and he was sent to Canada and the USA.

While training with the American Army Air Corps, it was discovered he had incredible night vision.

George had several close shaves as a night fighter and was almost shot down over Morocco when he flew a Mosquito from the UK to what is now Bangladesh.

George and his squadron flew night interception and patrolled the skies above the Burmese jungle looking for any Japanese incursions until VJ Day in August, 1945.

He was demobbed from the RAF in May 1946 with the rank of Warrant Officer.

His wife Mildred passed away in 2004 and George passed away in a Sheffield care home on May 14.

The few mourners that knew George at his funeral described him as a quiet, loyal and methodical man, who would have been overwhelmed by the attention his funeral gained.

n Anyone wishing to help the Rotherham and District Branch of the RAF Association can donate by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/GeorgeThompsonMemorial

 

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