D-Day veteran John Jenkins
The Union flag-draped coffin of John Jenkins MBE was applauded all along its 13-mile journey.
The Second World War hero, who died last month shortly after his 100th birthday, had been one of the last surviving veterans from the Normandy Landings.
Last June, he was warmly greeted by leaders from around the world when he gave a speech on stage at the 75th anniversary celebrations in his home city of Portsmouth.
Yesterday, his cortege around the city passed the D-Day Story museum where John, a former sergeant with the Royal Pioneer Corps, had volunteered for many years.
Some 100 people gathered at the museum and the hearse paused briefly to allow mourners to pay respects.
John being cheered by Donald Trump after his speech at the D-Day event
The procession moved along Southsea Esplanade and through residential streets before John was taken past Fratton Park, home of his cherished Portsmouth Football Club. The coffin of John, who had carried the Olympic torch from the club’s ground during the build-up to the 2012 summer games in London, was saluted there by 30 Pompey supporters.
Fan John Westwood said: “John epitomised everything about the club.
A young Mr Jenkins in uniform
“He was working class, he came from the streets, he defended our country, he showed loyalty and he worked hard. He spoke to the leaders of the world and came across as a very articulate man. Our generation owe so much to his generation.”
As the hearse arrived at Portchester crematorium, 40 mourners stood in silence alongside 10 retired service personnel, who were decorated with their medals. Seven bearers in military uniform carried the coffin inside for an emotional service.
John carried the Olympic torch, below, in 2012 at Fratton Park, Portsmouth
John, a keen painter, died at the local Queen Alexandra hospital on December 17 after a short illness.
On D-Day in 1944, he was deployed to France on Gold Beach at Arromanches – the centre of five landing points – and he was tasked with moving ammunition to the front line.
John was also made an MBE for his role as a company sergeant major in the Territorial Army after the war.