A proud war veteran who served his country and community was given his last salute by friends and strangers alike at a grand military funeral.
John ‘Jack’ Humphrey, 95, (pictured) was laid to rest at Carleton Crematorium yesterday morning, in a service attended by more than 300 people.
The former shop owner served with the Royal Army Service Corps, and joined the Special Ops Executive, during the Second World War.
Mr Humphrey, a widower who had been a member of the Freemasons for decades and who had no close living family, died on February 8 at his home on Kenwyn Avenue, Blackpool.
Fellow Freemasons called on the community through The Gazette and fellow servicemen and women to attend Mr Humphrey’s funeral to ensure he had a worthy send off.
While Mr Humphrey would not have been buried alone, and was surrounded by close friends who supported him in later life, some felt his sacrifices serving throughout the whole of the war meant he deserved a full military funeral.
This is just another great example of public support for the military, particularly older guys who sometimes get forgotten about.Rick Clement
South Shore soldier Rick Clement, who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, joined fellow veterans to pay his respects.
He said: “This is just another great example of public support for the military, particularly older guys who sometimes get forgotten about.”
Teenager soldier Yan Wilson, the youngest member of his battalion, the Duke of Lancaster 2nd Battalion, at 17, said: “Mr Humphrey was a veteran and I’d like to be looked upon like him one day.”
A mass of serving soldiers and veterans proudly wearing their medals were joined by police officers, councillors and members of the public as Mr Humphrey’s coffin, draped in a Union flag as well as a Newcastle United cap, in honour of his favourite football team, was taken into the crematorium. It was standing room only as 200 people filled the venue and dozens of others listened from outside. The service, led by Mr Humphrey’s friend Divisional Envoy Stuart Gay, from the Salvation Army, told of the soldier’s life in the Army before touching on the rest of his life lived in Blackpool, with wife Peggie and son Michael.
Mr Humphrey was born in South Yorkshire in 1920, before moving to the seaside resort where he ran a shop after leaving the Army.
In the 1990s he moved to live in Australia, where his son Michael remains – he was unable to make the long journey for his father’s funeral.
As a mason, Mr Humphrey was promoted to be past provincial assistant grandmaster, overseeing the organisation’s charity work. Bernard Brindle, 67, from Poulton, said: “It means a lot to honour the fallen.”
Close friends of Mr Humphrey, who helped him to live independently, remembered their “intelligent, fun and proud” friend.
Emma Fairhurst, 44, a neighbour and close friend for six years, said: “We were friends with Jack in life, not just in death. Jack had good people around him, he was well supported, he didn’t die alone and he wouldn’t have wanted pity. He was intelligent, fun and up to date.”
And Jenny Fitzsimmons, a friend for 40 years, added: “He was a proud, upstanding man and we loved him.”