Great-granddad from Sheringham remembers royal appointment at King George VI’s funeral

The 60th anniversary of the death of Britain's war time King is particularly poignant for one Norfolk man.

Brian Alton was just a teenager when he was unexpectedly called upon to be a Guard of Honour at George VI's funeral procession through London - an experience he remembers well to this day.

The great-grandfather-of-nine from Sheringham was a few weeks into his national service with the RAF when he was selected to be among the hundreds of armed forces personnel to take part in the procession on February 15, 1952.

King George had spent 16 years on the throne after the abdication of his brother Edward and died in his sleep at Sandringham on February 6.

Mr Alton left his training camp near Blackpool and was summoned to London to train for his important role.


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He said: 'We were told how to bow, where to stand, how to stand and we were all issued with swords. When we were in position the point of the sword had to be on top of your boot.

'We stood there a good hour before the procession came past. Behind me was some members of the army, behind them were police and then behind them were the crowds.

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'The area was absolutely stopped still.'

Photographs were banned, he added, and police officers kept an eye on the crowds to make sure they were not trying to take pictures.

When the King's coffin passed he and his neighbouring guards were ordered to stand to attention and then bow their heads, but Mr Alton, 78, had a trick up his sleeve to ensure he could watch and pay his respects as the monarch's body went by.

'I made sure my cap was as far back as possible so when I put my head down I could see underneath the brim,' he said.

And despite their strict regimen the outpouring of grief even got to the guards who had to surreptitiously wipe away their tears.

Mr Alton added: 'There was a real sense of mourning. If you looked amongst the crowd you'd see quite a lot of people were crying. And there were some guards who were occasionally looking to see if anyone was watching them and if they weren't they could get a handkerchief out and wipe their eyes.'

After serving at the King's funeral Mr Alton was posted to RAF Pickenham where he flew helicopters, before moving to Sheringham in 1982 where he opened the Jolly Tar restaurant in Station Road.

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