Tributes paid to working class Doncaster man who rose to the ranks of Captain
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Alan Howarth left school in 1968 with no qualifications and went to work in a warehouse.
After a couple of weeks he soon realised this wasn’t for him and at 15 he joined The Junior leaders, a name given to some Boys Service training units of the British Army.
Alan's brother Peter said everyone who served with or under him described him as "a legend and a gentleman" and had the greatest respect for him.
"I couldn’t wish for a better brother. He will always be in my heart.” Peter said.
“My dad died down the pit at 40 when I was five and Alan was seven - it was terrible.
“The Army became his life. His whole family - we all respected him. He came from a working class family and what he achieved to rise to the rank of a commissioned officer is remarkable.”
Alan had followed in his father's steps when he joined The Army. Alan’s father served all the way through the Second World War then later in the Korean war from 1950 to 1953.
Alan himself excelled within the Junior Leaders, quickly making his way through the ranks.
He successfully rose to become Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM).
At 17, and after getting signed permission from his mother, Alan joined The 2nd Battalion of the Light infantry.
He completed several tours of duty in Northern Ireland and worked undercover on several operations.
During one he was badly injured by an IRA nail bomb. He sustained serious injuries to his legs but later made a full recovery. For this, in April 1983, he received The BEM British Empire Medal for Gallantry Bravery.
Alan was very stoic with regard to his time in Northern Ireland and never spoke much of what he did in the service of his country.
He also served at several bases in the UK and overseas including Germany, Gibraltar, Cyprus and America.
Alan was also a talented bugler and played in the band for the light infantry, also leading as Sergeant Major.
After 40 years service, he left the Army in 2008, aged 55, with the rank of Major.He went on to take a civilian role as Secretary to The Rifles Association based in Pontefract.
This was another role which carried many important duties. It included many highlights such as making sure everything ran smoothly during visits from VIPs.
There were also very difficult tasks including latterly shouldering the responsibility of informing the next of kin and families of the loss of loved ones serving in Afghanistan.
Alan carried out this role for six years but had to give up his position due to ill health. In his later years, Alan suffered with cancer and died on March 30.
He leaves behind his wife Gail and son Oliver.
His funeral will take place on April 24 at Rose Hill Crematorium.
Due to restrictions caused by Covid-19, only immediate family will be able to attend. It is hoped a bigger memorial will take place once restrictions have been lifted to allow Alan's many friends and form colleagues to pay their respects in person.