Friday 9 December 2016

Family overwhelmed as hundreds come forward to attend funeral of World War Two veteran

David Kearns

Published 09/11/2015 | 13:54

Tom Bryan, pictured as a young man, died last week aged 92. His family is appealing for mourners to join them at his funeral Credit: Tony Budgett
Tom Bryan, pictured as a young man, died last week aged 92. His family is appealing for mourners to join them at his funeral Credit: Tony Budgett

The family of a Second World War veteran who asked the public to attend their uncle’s funeral have been “overwhelmed” by the response they have received for mourners.

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Tony Budgett (52) was due to be one of four to attend his uncle’s funeral before hundreds of people responded to his appeal on Facebook asking the wider community in Manchester to help give Tom Bryan (92) the “send off he deserves”.

The 52-year-old is one of only four surviving family members to the veteran solider who passed away last week.

The 92-year-old fought against the Japanese in Burma during Second World War.

His last surviving family members, nephew Tony Budgett, Tony’s wife Susanne and their two young children, were due to be the only mourners at his funeral on Tuesday - until Tony appealed on Facebook, asking for people to pay their respects to his uncle.

"I'm very humbled by the response," Mr Budgett told Newsbeat.

Right you guys, I need some help. The pictures of the chap I've posted are my late Uncle Tom who passed away last week...

Posted by Tony Budgett on Wednesday, 4 November 2015

"It's heartening to know that people do care for an elderly gentleman who's led a very quiet and anonymous life and it has helped the family considerably."

Mr Bryan found it very difficult to talk about the war, his nephew said. 

Tom Bryan, pictured as a young man, died last week aged 92. His family is appealing for mourners to join them at his funeral Credit: Tony Budgett
Tom Bryan, pictured as a young man, died last week aged 92. His family is appealing for mourners to join them at his funeral Credit: Tony Budgett

In his online appeal, he wrote: ""Uncle Tom would not talk about the war on his return and it was only decades later that he recounted the hellish existence he and his fellow troops endured.

"Surrounded and cut off for over three weeks, they fought their way out, very often hand to hand, often finding captured and killed allied troops, their tortured bodies left to be found by the retreating troops.

"Now I would ask you all to kindly forward this to anyone you know who may be ex-services or who may be local to Stockport and could attend his funeral to pay their respects to a man that was deeply changed by his experiences during the war."

Mr Budgett says since he posted his appeal on Facebook, friends and strangers have reached out to offer him support, adding that his thoughts were now also with other veterans, who might find themselves alone at the end of their lives.

“It makes you think, how many other uncle Toms there must be out there. We can’t let them slip through the net.”

Tom Bryan’s funeral will take place at Stockport Crematorium in the Ronan Chapel on Tuesday, November 10 at 1.45pm.

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