Farewell to true heroine Kitty Burge, the heartbeat of Norwich and District Normandy Veterans’ Association
- Credit: Archant � 2012
She will be given a heroine's send-off, a fitting tribute to a woman who put her heart and soul into making sure the heroes of Normandy were always remembered.
Kitty Burge, 82, the social secretary of the Norwich and District Normandy Veterans Association and the widow of her beloved Reg, who landed on Gold Beach on June 6 1944, died on May 23 following a short illness, just weeks before she planned to return to France to honour her late husband's memory.
Her funeral will be at St Faith's Crematorium on June 15 at 12.30pm and she will receive the same military honours as her husband received when he was laid to rest in 2014.
Kitty was one of five children and was evacuated from Bristol to Glastonbury during the war, later returning to Bristol to start work as a 16-year-old for an insurance company where she met her best friend Rosemary. She moved to Norfolk in the 1960s and met Reg, the love of her life, some years later.
The pair, who married in 1974, were completely devoted to each other, running a pet shop in Magpie Road, Norwich for 25 years.
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Reg, who died on Kitty's 79th birthday, survived the initial skirmishes on Gold Beach on June 6 but was badly injured just a week later after the Bren carrier he was driving was attacked killing his three passengers: he spent the rest of his life searching for the graves of his lost friends.
Stepdaughter Yvonne Wilson said that she and brothers Richard and John had thought of Kitty, who was raised as a Roman Catholic, as their mother.
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'She was a lovely lady and she and my father were besotted with each other. She would sit on his lap and read the newspaper in the evening, they were as much in love at the end as they were at the beginning – he used to call her 'my girl'. I know she was looking forward to seeing him again,' she said.
'Kit loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren and for a little lady, she will leave a big hole.'
Patrick Hornby, the Norwich NVA's standard bearer, first met Reg and Kitty in the late 1990s when he was part of a living history group and despite later moving to Scotland, he and wife Violet were regular visitors to the Burges and he will travel from just outside Glasgow to proudly bear the standard for the woman he thought of as his aunt.
'They both meant a great deal to me and I will miss them both so much,' he said.
Jack Woods, secretary of the Norwich NVA said: 'I've known Reg and Kitty Burge since early 1987 when we joined the Normandy Veterans Association at roughly the same time. Kitty took upon herself the job of social secretary arranging the annual pilgrimage to Normandy together with the Christmas lunch as well as outings to support other branches as they grew.
'During the annual pilgrimage to Normandy Reg would lay a wreath on the memorial to the 231 Brigade of the 50th Northumbrian Division at Asnelle on behalf of the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment who he landed with on D-Day. When he died, Kitty did the same on his behalf. This wreath will now be laid by one of our group.
'Kitty will be sorely missed - she will however be safe in the arms of her husband Reg. Where else would she wish to be?'