Dozens attend funeral of Second World War veteran from Watton who swam the Rhine to safety

Some of the well wishers who came to Second World War Arnhem veteran, Denis Icke's funeral. Picture:

Some of the well wishers who came to Second World War Arnhem veteran, Denis Icke's funeral. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The son of a Second World War veteran praised the 'amazing' crowd that turned out to his father's funeral.

Standards lead the car to the Earlham Crematorium chapel for Second World War Arnhem veteran, Denis

Standards lead the car to the Earlham Crematorium chapel for Second World War Arnhem veteran, Denis Icke's funeral. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

As a young man Denis Icke, who died aged 96, was dropped behind enemy lines in a bid to bring the Second World War to an early end.

He was dropped at Arnhem in the Netherlands as part of the ill-fated Operation Market Garden, immortalised in the film A Bridge Too Far.

The operation went disastrously wrong, and he only escaped with his life as he was a strong swimmer and managed to swim the river Rhine in a hail of machine gun fire.

His son Stewart, 65, wanted to invite people to his father's funeral as his parents had few surviving friends and he said it would mean a lot to his mother Madge, 94.

Second World War Arnhem veteran, Denis Icke's funeral. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Second World War Arnhem veteran, Denis Icke's funeral. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016


You may also want to watch:


And yesterday there was standing room only at Mr Icke's funeral at Earlham Crematorium as scores of civilians and military, including from the Royal Parachute Regiment in Colchester, turned out to the service.

Speaking afterwards, Stewart Icke said: 'It was amazing.'

Most Read

Mrs Icke, whose marriage to her husband spanned 74 years, wept as she followed the funeral cortege, supported by her son.

After the service, she said: 'We have to give thanks to everybody. It was so kind of everybody to come.'

Standards lead the car to the Earlham Crematorium chapel for Second World War Arnhem veteran, Denis

Standards lead the car to the Earlham Crematorium chapel for Second World War Arnhem veteran, Denis Icke's funeral. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The Royal British Legion's Norwich branch and the riders' branch were also among those who attended, with standing room only for the service.

Operation Market Garden in 1944 was intended as a co-ordinated push to seize key bridges, aiming to allow the Allies to punch through Nazi defences, reach Berlin and end the war by Christmas that year.

But the operation went disastrously wrong, with troops hit by machine gun fire as they parachuted in, and German tanks waiting for them. Almost 1,500 people died and more than 6,500 were taken prisoner, some badly injured.

Mr Icke did not speak of his experience for years and never collected his medals as he did not see his involvement as something to be proud of.

He built a new life for himself after the war – running a caravan park in Sea Palling, before moving to Norwich, and latterly Watton. He had served in the 1st Airborne Division.

Mr Icke was born in Smethwick, near Birmingham, in 1919.

He met his wife, Madge Cooke, at a dance months before the start of the war. He was conscripted in 1939 and they wed in 1942. After the war he kept horses and was a keen fisherman and photographer.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter