Essex DDay survivor Cyril Banks - Sailors and veterans wanted for funeral service 23052022 CREDIT Royal Navy.jpg
The D-Day veteran Cyril Banks' funeral will take place at Parndon Wood Road Crematorium in Harlow, Essex, at 16:30 on 30 May (Picture: Royal Navy).
Veterans

Could you help give this D-Day veteran the final send-off he deserves?

Sailors and veterans are wanted to support an Essex D-Day veteran's funeral.

Essex DDay survivor Cyril Banks - Sailors and veterans wanted for funeral service 23052022 CREDIT Royal Navy.jpg
The D-Day veteran Cyril Banks' funeral will take place at Parndon Wood Road Crematorium in Harlow, Essex, at 16:30 on 30 May (Picture: Royal Navy).

An appeal has been issued to give a D-Day veteran the send-off he deserves.

Cyril Banks, a D-Day, Arctic Convoy and Pacific Fleet veteran, died earlier this month, aged 97.

Friends are calling for a strong military presence at his funeral in Harlow, Essex, on Monday 30 May – either serving personnel, veterans or associations – as Cyril was proud of his achievements and never forgot his shipmates.

Naval history

Cyril Banks enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1943 at the age of 18 and joined the minesweeper HMS Ready as an anti-aircraft gunner.

His first months at sea were spent in the harsh Arctic convoys and in the North Sea patrolling for U-boats before moving to the Channel to support the invasion of Europe.

HMS Ready was committed to clearing the approaches to what would become Gold Beach, leading the 8th Minesweeping flotilla.

Ready swept her first mine at 11pm on the night before D-Day and remained in harm's way under the guns of the Atlantic Wall.

As the landings progressed the next day, the ship's company witnessed some horrific sights.

"We saw bodies floating in the water, including an American paratrooper who became caught in the cords of his twisted chute when he went down in the water," Cyril recalled.

"We found him drowned but later gave him a decent burial at sea. The horrendous things that were happening will live in my mind forever."

Cyril was subsequently posted to a Landing Ship (Tank) in the Channel before sailing to the Far East, where he took part in operations against the Japanese and assisted in the repatriation of Australian prisoners of war.

Later life

On leaving the Royal Navy, he returned to Bishop's Stortford and remained there for the rest of his life, working as a carpenter.

He later benefited from the support of the Not Forgotten Charity which organises recreation, holidays and entertainment for veterans.

In return, Cyril became an ambassador and fund-raiser for the charity, abseiling 110ft down a water tower in Harlow and taking a 12-minute wing walk – both at the age of 88.

Watch: Not Forgotten Association event is back at Buckingham Palace.

He was also a regular tin rattler at Stansted Airport and London's Victoria Station – collecting more than £16,000 for the charity in a 10-year period.

Described by those who knew him as "a remarkable man", he was honoured later in life by the French Government – like many of those involved in the Normandy campaign – with the Legion d'Honneur.

His funeral will take place at Parndon Wood Road Crematorium in Harlow, Essex, at 16:30 on 30 May.