UPDATE: Funeral details of late Doncaster war hero Eric Gill announced
The funeral details for a Doncaster veteran, whose loved ones are calling on people across the borough to pay their respects at his service, have now been announced.
The funeral of Eric Gill, who passed away aged 99, will be held at 2pm on Friday, December 18 at Rose Hill Crematorium.
The details of his wake have not yet been announced.
Mr Gill, who fought in the 49th West Riding Infantry during World War Two, had always wanted to live to the age of 100 as a mark of respect to fallen soldiers everywhere – and to veterans who had been unable to live to see the landmark birthday.
Family of late Doncaster veteran in funeral pleaBut sadly, after suffering a bad fall, Mr Gill, of Nelson Road, Edlington, died on November 30 – just a few months shy of his 100th birthday.
This week, his friend and carer Gwen Burrows called on people across Doncaster to attend the brave veteran’s funeral.
There are fears that the service for Mr Gill, who was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by the French government earlier this year, may not be well attended because the beloved father only had a ‘small circle of friends and family,’ some of whom will be unable to make it due to illness and distance.
Speaking to BBC Radio Sheffield, Mrs Burrows said: “I’d just like to give Eric a lovely send off.
“He was a great guy, and he has got lots of friends but they’re all getting older and I’m afraid they won’t be able to make it.
“But I’d love to give him just a lovely send off, because he has been a friend to lots of people.”
Chairman of the Victoria Cross Trust, Gary Stapleton, who is helping to organise the funeral arrangements, said he wanted to see Mr Gill’s funeral at Rose Hill crematorium filled to the rafters.
He told The Free Press: “Eric’s funeral really is an opportunity for Doncaster to pay tribute to him, and to everyone of his generation who did so much for this country.
“Knowing that so many people cared about him, and about all the sacrifices made by him and his compatriots, it would have meant the world to him.”
Mr Stapleton said Mr Gill had remained ‘incredibly proud’ of everything he achieved during his time in the West Riding Infantry.
He said: “Eric was always smartly turned-out and was often seen in his full uniform, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he slept in it!
“He was a lovable rogue, who always had a twinkle in his eye.
“Eric was just the nicest, kindest man who couldn’t do enough for other people, and we just want him to be given the best send off possible.”
Coun Paul Wray, Doncaster Council’s Veteran’s Champion, in charge of looking after the interest of ex-armed forces personnel, pledged to attend the funeral.
He said: “It is sad that one of our war heroes has passed away. I will be attending Eric’s funeral to pay respect on behalf of the council and Doncaster.”
The Free Press’ website published a story on Sunday about the appeal and hordes of readers expressed their interest in attending the service.
Representatives from The Doncaster British Legion, the 103 Doncaster Squadron Air Cadets as well as Doncaster Veterans’ Champion and Civic Mayor Paul Wray are among those who have shown interest in attending Mr Gill’s funeral.
It also hoped members of the 49th West Riding Infantry will also be in attendance.