A large crowd of well wishers descended on Eastbourne Crematorium yesterday (Thursday) to pay tribute to decorated war veteran Robert Argyle.
The modest Lancaster Bomber pilot died last month aged 92 and with no family still alive, his friends and carers at St Clement’s Court in Framfield Way launched an appeal to get mourners to the crematorium.
The campaign gathered momentum and went viral on social network sites and by Thursday morning, hundreds of people and former members of the military had pledged their support.
In the end more than 100 people attended the funeral including former servicemen, a group of Hells Angels, representatives from Help for Heroes and there was also an RAF fly past by a Tiger Moth plane and standard bearers from the Eastbourne branch of the Royal British Legion and the East Sussex Royal Air Force Association.
There was also strong representation from local and national media who learned of the campaign through Facebook and Twitter including a television crew Canada, where Mr Argyle was born in 1921.
Only close friends of Mr Argyle were able to go into the small family chapel at the crematorium and the rest of the mourners remained outside.
Mr Argyle, a devout Catholic, had planned his own funeral service and was described by friends as someone who had lived an honourable and full life with great integrity and a strong faith.
His funeral was conducted by Father Sebastian from St Michael and All Angels who knew Mr Argyle well.
Although he hailed from Canada, Mr Argyle was sent to England to be educated and later joined the RAF.
He trained and became a Bomber pilot flying from airfields in Lincolnshire and completed the required 30 raids over Germany.
After the war Robert went to Burma to fight the Japanese and at some time during the Cold War he acted as a courier for the Vatican in order to take information and financial support to the Polish Roman Catholic Church which was at the time being persecuted by the Communist regime.
Returning to a civilian lifestyle, Robert became a personal assistant to a tycoon in international finance and travelled the world with him.
He later moved to St Clement’s Court where he had many friends.
Neighbour Philip Lester, who was at the funeral, said, “I was very honoured to have known Robert.”