Hundreds of military veterans are expected to help celebrate the life of a late 97-year-old RAF veteran from Ipswich after it was thought that just three people – including his two solicitors – were due to attend his funeral following his death at the end of last year.
Royal Air Force (RAF) veteran Ronald Frank Gale passed away at home on Friday 23 December 2022 due to old age and had no living or known family around him at his time of death.
Only one of his neighbours, along with his solicitors, were expected to attend his funeral later this month until news of his passing, and the lack of mourners expected at his service, was shared on social media.
Now many civilians from his local area have pledged to attend while appeals have been shared among veterans' groups calling for more from the military community to turn out to pay their respects.
Ronald had been cared for by neighbours in his later years but when he had not been seen or heard from for some time, they alerted the authorities who then discovered the veteran had sadly passed away.
A representative of the local law firm now handling Ronald's estate said that the Second World War veteran had been a huge lover of cats and had thousands of images of his pets from over the years but that he did not have pictures of himself.
His solicitors said that, apart from a photo on his bus pass, they had only managed to find a few pictures of Ronald which had been taken during his time serving with the RAF.
Very little is known about Ronald's military service, although one of his neighbours believes the veteran had spent some of his life living in Canada during his time serving.
Veterans' charities have confirmed that many of their members intend to pay their respects at Ronald's funeral, while a bugler has pledged to attend to perform a rendition of the Last Post to give the veteran a fitting final goodbye.
Hundreds of people are now expected to join the service, including serving members of the Armed Forces from nearby military bases in Suffolk and Essex who have also pledged to attend in posts on social media, with some saying they would wear military uniform to the service in honour of Ronald.
The veteran's funeral service is due to take place at 11:45 am, on 22 February at Ipswich Crematorium, 10 Cemetery Lane, Ipswich IP4 2TQ.