Show your respect for war hero: Attend George’s funeral to give him send-off he deserves

George William Thompson in about 1945
George William Thompson in about 1945
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The Star is today calling upon readers to pay their final respects to a 96-year-old war hero who has died with almost nobody to attend his funeral.

George Thompson fought bravely for his country in the Second World War - but has passed away with no family members and few surviving friends.

Now The Star is joining calls from the Royal Air Force Association to give George, of Woodseats, the send-off he deserves.

Andy Merris, standard bearer of the Rotherham RAFA, said: “It’s about trying to get people there and to give the guy a send-off.

“We would love people to attend as a mark of respect and just to say, ‘Thank you, God bless you’.”

George William Thompson was born in Sheffield on September 19, 1917.

Both he and his wife, Mildred, worked at Laycock’s Engineering Works, which made aircraft parts.

George was an inspector in the Aircraft Inspection Department.

George’s role was regarded as a reserved occupation so it took numerous attempts before he was eventually accepted into the RAF for pilot training at the age of 24.

He began his training on April 13, 1942, and just 17 days later he 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.

Speaking to The Star during an interview in 2005, George said: “We were supposed to be going onto bombers but, when it was recorded about my night-sight, I went onto night fighters.

“That most likely saved my life because thousands of bomber crew were killed.”

George did, however, have a number of close shaves himself, notably a dicey flight from Britain to Morocco.

Knowing they had limited fuel, George and his navigator Russell Spencer waited until there was a favourable tailwind before they took off. About halfway there, it looked like they weren’t going to make it.

“We were given a new course to cut out some distance and we flew over Portugal and the bottom end of Spain with our cannons ready because there were German aircraft in the area,” George had recalled.

“Luckily, we never saw a thing - it was lunchtime and I think they must have all gone to lunch.

“However still over the Atlantic, the gauges were showing empty. I saw the coast coming up and I flew straight towards the runway.

“As we taxied at the end of the runway, the control tower told us to follow a jeep and, just as I turned off the runway, both engines stopped. We had run out of fuel.”

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

Mildred died in 2004.

George spent his final years in a care home and died on May 14.

The funeral will take place on Friday, May 30, at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium, Periwood Lane, at 3.30pm.