RAF troops carry coffins for Dambusters hero and wife buried together in emotional funeral after dying just 10 days apartJanuary 22, 2019
Hundreds of strangers turned out to give Victor and Edna Barnett, who had no children or living relatives, a full military send-off in Telford, Shropshire, today.
World War Two hero Victor, known as VJ, was 101 when he died on December 21, while 91-year-old Edna died on New Year's Eve.
The RAF appealed for people to attend their joint funeral and it quickly went viral with more than 400 people from every branch of the armed forces in attendance.
Mourners lined the streets and packed into the crematorium, while an RAF helicopter performed a fly-past in their honour.
The couple's coffins were both draped in the Union Jack flag and were topped with their RAF caps.
Each coffin was carried into the crematorium on the shoulders of 12 current service personnel.
FALLING IN LOVE
The couple fell in love in 1944 while Edna was working in the Women's Auxillary Air Force and Victor was working as a radar engineer.
Victor joined the RAF in 1937 and worked on the first radar system that detected German planes during the Battle of Britain.
He then went on to help prep Lancaster bombers for the famous 1943 Dambusters raid and befriend 'bouncing bomb' inventor Barnes Wallis.
Speaking after the service, Squadron Leader Chris Wilson, of RAF Cosford, said: "It's been an amazing turnout.
"It's nice to see so many members of the public who have answered the call that we put out on social media.
To find these two wonderful people who did so much for their country but had no surviving family, this was the least we could do to try and make sure they were looked after
"People have come from Shropshire, the West Midlands and further afield to make sure Victor and Edna have a good turnout to their funeral.
"You can hope for a big turn out, because you want as many people to come out as possible, but to stand here now to see that everybody is listening to speakers outside, it's perfect.
"It's such a lovely thing for Victor and Edna.
"I always say that once you're in the Royal Air Force, you're always part of the Royal Air Force family.
"Funerals are usually very private affairs, they're family affairs, so we don't get to come to them unless we're invited.
"To find these two wonderful people who did so much for their country but had no surviving family, this was the least we could do to try and make sure they were looked after."
Mourner Les Smith, 67, who lives in Shifnal, said: "I had to come and see them off. I saw the story in the paper and wanted to do my bit to make sure they got the send off they deserved.
"They were together for such a long, and it's so sad that they died within a few weeks of one another, but I like to think they would have been happy with how many people are here today."
Jonathan Thompson, 40, travelled 190 miles from his home in Whitby, North Yorks., to attend the funeral.
He said: "My grandfather was in the RAF and he always regarded life in the military as belonging to a family.
"He died last year but when I read the tweet from RAF Cosford last week I knew I had to do him proud and be here in his place.
"I'm enormously proud to be here and although I never met Victor or Edna, their contributions to the military should be recognised and honoured."
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