Sheffield war vet given permanent memorial

George William Thompson in about 1945
George William Thompson in about 1945

A permanent memorial to a Sheffield war hero has become a reality – thanks to readers of The Star.

A permanent memorial to a Sheffield war hero has become a reality – thanks to readers of The Star.

George Thompson hit the headlines after an appeal for people to attend his funeral.

He fought for his country in World War Two, but passed away with no family members and few surviving friends.

A modest service was transformed into a sensational send-off after The Star joined forces with the Royal Air Force Association to urge people to give the 96-year-old, from Woodseats, the funeral he deserved.

Hundreds of pounds were collected at the funeral towards the cost of buying a burial plot and headstone for the veteran’s ashes at Sheffield’s Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium.

The Rotherham and District Branch of the RAF Association also set up a fundraising page and, after The Star featured the appeal, the remaining cash was donated to meet the £1,500 target.

Derek Padgett, branch chairman, said: “Since the funeral, we have been trying to do this because we believed it would be wrong for him to be scattered among everyone else and there be nothing to remember him by.

“After all, he did fight for this country and keep it free and we think these sort of people should be remembered.

“We are surprised at the short length of time it has taken for us to raise the money.

“We thought it would be bit more difficult, especially after we helped to organise the funeral and people came to it from all over the world.

“We are so pleased his story went viral and we have managed to raise all this money. We are grateful to those who have helped.”

Donations made to the fundraising page range between £10 and £20, while Paul Morris donated £250 on the day the story appeared in The Star with the message: “Rest in peace.”

Money raised above the £1,500 needed will go to the RAF Association.

Mr Padgett said: “It will go to the association in memory of George Thompson and he will always be remembered within the association.”

George worked at Laycock’s Engineering Works, which made aircraft parts, before he was eventually accepted into the RAF for pilot training aged 24.

He began his training on April 13, 1942, and just 17 days later flew solo for the first time.

He was demobbed from the RAF in May 1946 with the rank of Warrant Officer.

His wife Mildred passed away in 2004 and George passed away in a Sheffield care home on May 14.

Mr Padgett said: “At least people will be able to see he was a war hero.”