A hero paratrooper of the Second World War who died as 'The Last Post' was playing at 11am on Remembrance Sunday is to be buried today at Altringham crematorium in a non-religious ceremony.
Ralph died holding the hands of the nurses who cared for him, just days before a surprise party planned by his family to celebrate his 94th birthday.
Mr Jones lived in Altrincham before moving into Broughton House care home for ex-servicemen and women in Salford.
Relatives are coming over from the United States, and invitations have been sent to Ralph’s comrades, representatives from the Parachute Regiment and with ex- members of the armed forces.
Ralph fought in the Normandy Landings and was shot four times, with one bullet remaining lodged in his stomach permanently.
As part of his birthday celebrations, The Second World War hero was going to be reunited with two of his fellow soldiers: Ken Oldham, and Ray Schulk, who fought alongside him during the Allied invasion in June 1944 as part of the 13th Battalion 6th Airborne Division.
Ty Platten, chief executive of Broughton House, said of the war hero:
“Ralph was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things and from 1940 to 1945, when his people and his country’s sovereignty were threatened, he not only defended the rights of his fellow countrymen but he went into Europe and defended the rights of his fellow Europeans.”
“He was a man who walked this earth with courage and humility, and the world is a poorer place for his passing.”
Whilst Ralph vividly described his own part in the D-Day Landings:
“The glider overturns once, rights itself and we go right through the brick wall of a house and then slide along for about 100 yards. Three of the guys are gone. “We’re under heavy fire and it’s quite a struggle to get out. Then I get shot - one, two, three times…”
“I spot my mate on the ground too, in bad shape, worse than me. I try to revive him. Nothing. I see the Jeep from the glider close by – I put him in the back. I try to revive him again but he’s gone. Then one of my mates from the regiment joins me and tells me to get in…”
“Grenades are going off everywhere. We’re taken up in this air ambulance. There’s wounded Germans in there too. I can’t believe it. ‘We’ve been ruddy fighting you’, I say. And as it’s going up I think about the bullet in my arm, the bullet in my stomach, my foot shot up, and all I can think is the wife is going to kill me.”
During today’s (Wednesday) ceremony, the regimental quick march of the British Parachute Regiment, The Ride of the Valkyries, will be played as Ralph’s coffin is carried into the chapel.
The service is open to all, including military and ex-military in uniform.