Blackpool honours decorated war hero

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Royal Marine servicemen gathered at St John’s Church to honour one of Blackpool’s war heroes.

Second World War veteran Jim Baker, from Marton, signed up for the Royal Marines at just 17-years-old. He took part in the first wave of D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944, when his small assault boat was the only survivor out of a fleet of 24.

Funeral of WWII veteran Jim Baker at St John's Church

Funeral of WWII veteran Jim Baker at St John's Church

He died on April 27 at the Blesma Home in South Shore where he was being cared for, aged 93.

Family, friends, and fellow former Marines in full military dress paid their respects at his funeral at St John’s Church in Blackpool.

His son Paul Baker, 68, said: “It was an excellent send-off and I think he would have really enjoyed it.

“He loved his days in service - it was always ‘marines, marines marines’ with him! He had a lot of stories to tell. He was a very brave man.”

Jim Baker pictured during a visit  to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard ahead of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day campaign in 2014

Jim Baker pictured during a visit to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard ahead of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day campaign in 2014

Wounded by a mortar explosion during the D-Day landings, Jim went on to do 22 more missions.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his bravery, and recently received the Legion d’Honneur from the French government.

He was a founder member of the Blackpool branch of the Royal Marine Association, a former president of the Fylde Ex-Service Liaison Committee, and was involved in the town’s popular Veterans Week.

His daughter Shelley Sayer, 63, said: “He was a wonderful father and a brilliant man. Thank you for being my hero.”

Funeral of WWII veteran Jim Baker at St John's Church

Funeral of WWII veteran Jim Baker at St John's Church

His grandchildren Dean, Chris, and Connor Baker added: “We want to thank him for everything. We love him dearly and he will be in our hearts forever.”

Jim was laid to rest at Carleton Crematorium, where his late wife May is buried.

Mike Warren, funeral liason officer at the Royal Marines, said: “He was especially proud to be a part of the Royal Marines and lived and breathed for them.

“Today was all about Jim and giving him the great send-off he deserved.”

Funeral of WWII veteran Jim Baker at St John's Church

Funeral of WWII veteran Jim Baker at St John's Church

Talbot councillor Ian Coleman, who attended the funeral, said: “I knew Jim very well. He would come into The Legion club and enjoy the entertainment and loved to get up himself. His most favourite number was a First World War tune called Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire, which was quite moving.

“He was always highly respected where-ever he went and he was a credit not only to the Marines but to Blackpool in general.

“He’s going to be sadly missed, but never forgotten.”