From World War II hero to spiritual healer - amazing life of Bill remembered
The remarkable life of a Sheffield World War Two hero turned amateur dramatics enthusiast and spiritual healer has been remembered at his funeral.
More than 100 people packed into Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium yesterday afternoon to say an emotional farewell to Bill Hartley, who died this month aged 94.
The service heard how Bill, originally from Hillsborough, had signed up for the Territorial Army in 1939 at the age of 17 after he forged a letter from his mum to say he was old enough to enlist.
He went on to fight the Nazis across Africa and Europe, taking part in the D-Day landings and the final advance into Germany.
After the war, he transferred to the Army Reserves and served as a radio operator and driver operator between 1946 and 1959.
The congregation heard how Bill had been an extra in the 1957 film The Bridge over the River Kwai, as well as a keen member of the Woodseats Operatic Society.
A devout Christian, he was also a member of the Spiritualist Church for more than 50 years and was a spiritual healer, as well as working as a sales rep in his professional life.
Bill also volunteered with Gamblers’ Anonymous, while being a staunch family man who found joy in his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In addition, he was the treasurer of the Sheffield branch of the Normandy Veterans Association.
In 2014, Bill was awarded the French Legion of Honour – the country’s highest-military honour – in recognition of his role in the D-Day landings in 1944.
His grandson Alex told the service: “He had a sparkle right up until the end of his life.
“It almost doesn’t seem possible for one person to have done so much.”
The service in memory of the great-grandfather included some of his favourite music, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Modern Major-General.
Mourners left the crematorium as a version of Danny Boy by the Westminster Choir was played.