Mourners turn out for funeral of solitary Second World War soldier Reginald Watson in Ormesby

People gathering at Ormesby St Margaret Church for the funeral of Reginald Watson following a social

People gathering at Ormesby St Margaret Church for the funeral of Reginald Watson following a social media appeal for mourners. The Second World War veteran left no surviving family. - Credit: Archant

Although most of them never knew him, more than 200 mourners flocked to a village church to pay their respects to a Second World War soldier today.

Reginald Watson died without any surviving family in November but local vicar Rev Mandy Bishop was determined to give him a good send off.

Together with the Royal British Legion, she appealed to the public to form a congregation for Mr Watson, and described the response she received as 'over-whelming'.

Around 250 people attended the service at Ormesby St Margaret Church including as many as 17 standard bearers.

As a guard of honour was assembled outside people continued to make their way to the church, many of them ex-servicemen proudly wearing their medals.

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A single piper played as Mr Watson's body was carried, the flag of the King's Rifle Corps draped poignantly over his coffin.

Displayed at the back of the church was one of the only known photographs taken of Mr Watson - taken when he was just four years old.

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The turnout out was boosted by a social medial appeal to honour the 90-year-old described as 'one of the real Ormesby people.'

Addressing the congregation, the vicar said: 'Some of you have come here because you remember Reg, but some of you are here to give something back for the service he gave to his country.

'It is a good thing you have done today and I thank you all for giving him the dignified send-off he deserved.'

Florance Gallacher, who attended as a representative of Ormesby British Legion said: 'I'd like to thank Reverend Mandy Bishop for her hard work, all the people who attended and all the standard bearers who made Reginald's funeral so outstanding.'

Paul Williams, chairman of the Great Yarmouth branch, said: 'We were expecting 12 standard bearers, to have got 17 was great.

'Occasions like this is what we are all about. We support servicemen and women in both life and death and we are very proud and privileged to be able to do so. We are proud custodians of the remembrance service and it was heartwarming to see so many people supporting us in that.'

Stan Hebborn, who played the pipes for Mr Watson, said: 'It was a fantastic service. I have played at many funerals in my time but not many as well subscribed as this one.

'It just goes to show just how much servicemen and women are cared about and supported - it really is like a family.'

Paul Dobson, of the 901 Marine Cadets, said: 'It was incredible to see so many people attend,'

Among those also in attendance were representatives from the coastguard, St John's Ambulance and Royal British Legion branches from as far away as East London.

Ernie Brown, a school friend of Mr Watson, paid tribute in the ceremony, before bugler Leigh Sharpe performed the Last Post.

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