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The coffin is carried into the chapel at Kingston Crematorium by six veteran Paras today


Veterans fill the pews as Terence ‘Paddy ‘Purcell is laid to rest


Funeral celebrant ex-Para and 22 SAS Bob Craft salutes the coffin


Celebrant Bob Craft pays tribute to Terence ‘Paddy’ Purcell’s life


Welsh Guard veterans from Caterham were amongst the mourners today


Members of the Parachute Regiment gather outside following the service at Kingston Crematorium


Veterans pay their respects as lonely Paratrooper is laid to rest


The flag of the Parachute Regiment and Standards outside the chapel




The oak coffin was draped in the double-sided maroon flag of the Parachute Regiment. Most of the mourners had never even met Lance Corporal Terence ‘Paddy’ Purcell who served with 2 Para and 3 Para, service number 24234675.

He had no known family or friends and faced a lonely farewell at Kingston upon Thames Crematorium at his 9.40am allocated time slot today (tues)

But in a rare celebration of the positive value and impact of social media via  X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook which appealed to people to ‘attend the funeral of a veteran’ every pew of the chapel was full with veterans from various regiments.

The poignant post read: “He has no family, no-one should take their final journey alone, please retweet. RIP Sir.”

Can anyone attend the funeral of a veteran who served with the Paras, Terence Purcell will be laid to rest on 09/04/2024 at 09.40am at Kingston crem, KT13EZ, he has no family, no one should take their final journey alone, please retweet, RIP Sir x ❤️❤️

Veterans wearing their familiar maroon berets and cap badges from the Parachute Regiment were well represented and joined by their fellow servicemen from The Welsh Guards, the Royal Navy including a submariner, the Armed Forces charity SSAFA and the local branches of the Royal British Legion from Surbiton and Croydon.

Only one attendee did know Paddy, who was born 70 years ago today.  Alan Crutchley from Shropshire who recalled: “He was a good boxer and I remember fighting with him in Berlin in 1979.”

Funeral celebrant Bob Craft, a veteran of 1 Para and 22 SAS, conducted the short moving service paying tribute to Paddy, who was from South Armagh, Northern Ireland, as a ‘good man and a good paratrooper.’ There is no existing photograph of him but his service is known to include a spell with 3 Para in an anti-tank regiment in Germany.

He told the congregation that only two people would have attended the service before the social media post alerted the Parachute Regimental Association and the wider veteran and charity community.

He said: “The outpouring of support and energy from the veteran community has demonstrated the unwavering brotherhood, comradeship, compassion and love that exists among us, especially for a fellow veteran like Terence Purcell.

“Although many of you may not be acquainted with each other, you are all connected through the service for our Queen, now King and Country. Regardless of your cap badge, you have chosen to pause your usual routines today to honour the emotions that accompany us when we experience the loss of a veteran.

“Each of you has made the effort to be present here today, and your attendance is deeply appreciated. Your presence holds significant meaning, reflecting the value and impact of Terence’s service.

“As I gaze upon the sea of maroon berets, the proud standards, and the faces filled with honour, I am deeply moved by the collective pride and effort you have all put into making this farewell truly special for Terence Purcell.

“No relatives were available. The response has been excellent. You attended and truly honoured him. With pride and respect we bid him farewell.” Paddy’s last known residence was a care home in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

The celebrant added: “What do we know about him, sadly not a lot, he is remembered as a boxer in 3 Para also 2 Para has been mentioned and with the absence of the red book, or recalls it is difficult to sketch a decent picture of his military service, the modern data protection rules are a barrier to fact finding with no relatives available to gain access.

“We know he was a good paratrooper; he came from a difficult background which must have been even more challenging with his chosen career of joining the Parachute Regiment.

“Many questions have been asked in the last couple of weeks, trying to link in with what you Terence have been up too since leaving the army as well as some feedback from your time serving our country.

“I felt sad that we could not pinpoint your exact movements and your life story. Maybe you were lonely, maybe you were sad, but maybe and hopefully you were happy, either way your final journey is well underway and everyone here can visualise that journey that we all expect to take one day.

As The Last Post sounded the celebrant added: “Terence’s time is now over, a veteran whose battles have come to an end. With hearts heavy with sorrow, yet light with gratitude. May his spirit soar with the Valkyries as he joins the noble ranks of warriors who have gone before him.

“We commit the body of Terence Purcell to its end with nature and to be cremated. Rest peacefully and enjoy being welcomed into the halls of heroes.”

The coffin arrived in a hearse and was carried into the chapel by six Para veterans, wearing their distinctive maroon berets, with a line of veterans stood respectfully to attention in a guard of honour near the chapel entrance.

The celebrant paid tribute to Paddy’s ‘last drop’ as the haunting sound of a C130 troop carrier aircraft was played over the sound system along with The Last Post, The Ride of the Valkyries, Pomp and Circumstance 4 and the theme tune from the 1977 Richard Attenborough film A Bridge Too Far.

The celebrant added: “The response today has demonstrated the unwavering compassion and love for a fellow veteran like Terence Purcell.”

He also read the Airborne Forces Collect. “May the defence of the Most High be above and beneath, around and within us, in our going out and in our coming in, in our rising up and in our going down, through all our days and all our nights, until dawn when the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings for the peoples of the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

As the flag was removed from the coffin the Standards of the Parachute Regiment and the Royal British Legion were slowly lowered and the Last Post was played. The celebrant told the mourners that Paddy was ‘entering the halls of heroes.’ His ashes will be scattered under a parachute at Peterlee airfield in Hampshire and a scattering service atop scattering service atop Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons in May.

Mr Craft revealed that three similar funerals of veterans with no relatives were due to take place later this week.

“This is a growing problem and we want to make all those people who work in care homes and hospitals where veterans may be living or receiving end of life treatment to contact regimental associations to ensure that we can give these veterans and heroes the send-off they truly deserve,” he said.

Last week Mr Craft posted on Facebook to say: I am confirmed and conducting the council funeral for 24234675 L/Cpl Terence Purcell next Tuesday the 9th April at the Kingston Crematorium, KT1 3EZ at 0940hrs.

“I know Vic Morrell ( local welfare officer) is attending with the standard and a few chaps, but if we can rally more then that would be great. We have a 8×5’ Regimental flag to dress him for entry.

“There is little firm news on his history so if anyone has any comments please send as I will include them in the service to hopefully add a personal touch. Never the less he will get an airborne send off, which will be far better than the original council funeral plan of being slipped away unknown if Vikki hadn’t flagged it out to us.

“It would be super if we can have a pall bearer party to march him in to The Ride of the Valkyries..

“There is no planned wake but I am sure we can slip to a local after to wet his passing. I will be in Kingston upon Thames Premier Inn on Monday evening if anyone is going to be around. Please pass and share or cut and paste as much as possible.”

Veteran family welfare officer Vikki Morrell also posted on social media saying: “Regarding funeral 9 April, Kingston Crematorium at 0940, detail as follows: Lance Corporal Terence Purcell DOB 09/04/1954 – Paratrooper Service No 24234675 – last place of residence 26 Griffiths Close KT4 8SL (Care Home). He has no contactable relatives and just 2 friends will be attending as things stand. So if we can rustle up a few more, it will be nice. Thanks for your help.”




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