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A Remembrance Day Funeral for Veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival

Getty Images / Nigel Roddis

A Remembrance Day Funeral for Veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival

On the 11th of November each year, the United Kingdom observes Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day, a day to remember members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty. Like Veterans Day in the United States, Remembrance Day commemorates the close of World War I, the formal ending of hostilities having taken place in "the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month." Amidst the many solemn ceremonies in remembrance of veterans that took place in England 11 November 2013 was one unique funeral.

Harold Jellicoe "Coe" Percival, a Royal Air Force veteran of World War II, died Oct. 25, 2013, at the age of 99. Percival never married and was not survived by any children. There may not have been many in attendance at his funeral – but for the call to action published in his death notice and the incredible response of the community.

It started with a single sentence in a short notice: "Any service personnel who can attend his funeral service would be appreciated." Published in the Lytham St. Annes Express on 7 November 2013, the notice allowed only a few days for local service members to make plans to attend the funeral. As news of the funeral spread virally, many – both veterans and civilians – felt compelled to honour this soldier, whether they knew him in life or not.

The result? A standing-room-only funeral, with a packed chapel and hundreds more mourners waiting outside to pay their respects. It was a remarkable way to observe Remembrance Day, and an appropriate and moving way to honour a veteran.


Tributes to Harold Jellicoe Percival

Hundreds at 'forgotten' World War II hero's funeral on Armistice Day He died a single man with no friends or family. But today 700 strangers stood shoulder to shoulder to say farewell to Harold Jellicoe Percival. Read more

Hundreds attend funeral of Bomber Command veteran, who died with no family or friends Hundreds of mourners have gathered to bid farewell to an old soldier – who nursing home staff feared would be forgotten. Read more