Urgent appeal for mourners to give old soldier Richard Norris a proper send-off at 1pm today

Richard Norris.Richard Norris.
Richard Norris.
A last-minute appeal has been launched for mourners to give a decorated World War Two veteran a proper send off, after he died with no surviving relatives to attend his funeral in East Yorkshire today.

Richard Norris, who fought at El Alamein, died at the age of 97 at his sheltered accommodation home.

Mr Norris worked as a newspaper type operator before and after the war - serving with the 45th Royal Tank Regiment in Egypt.

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He lived out his retirement at Taylors Field, in Driffield, but had no known relatives.

John Forrester, secretary of the Royal British Legion Driffield branch, said: “It would be great if people could come and show their support.

Veterans passing away with no surviving family seems to be happening more and more. It is important they get a good send-off.”

Mr Norris, born in Leeds, joined his local Territorial Army group in 1939 after attending Leeds Grammar School.

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Joining the 45th Royal Tank Regiment, he fought Rommel’s Afrika Korps at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942.

Mr Norris was then stationed with the 8th Army in Egypt before moving to Palestine as an instructor in the base workshops with the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Following the war, Mr Norris returned to his Yorkshire roots and went back to his role as a type operator with the Yorkshire Post, where he had worked from 1935.

In 1963 he moved to Driffield, were he owned the Kellythorpe Garage until 1969, and spent time in Scarborough before he retired to Taylors Field in 1994.

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Military association standards, veterans and members of the general public are asked to attend Mr Norris’s funeral.

The Royal British Legion is especially keen to hear from a Royal Tank Regiment standard-bearer who is able to attend.

Mr Forrester, who served for 22 years in the RAF, added: “Ideally, we want to be in a position to offer a guard of honour outside the church.

“However, this will depend on us having enough standard-bearers.”

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His funeral will be held at All Saints Parish Church in Driffield, today (Monday, October 17) at 1pm.

This will be followed by internment at Driffield Cemetery - where he will laid to rest beside his wife Sybil who died in 2010.

The funeral will be conducted by former Parachute Regiment padre Rev John McNaughton.

Dave Thorley, 69, who knew Mr Norris for 53 years said: “He life in the Army was the basis for his life experiences.

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“He was an extremely good engineer and I remember him recalling that he wrote a manual on a tank engine that was better than the manual that the manufacturer had written.

“He was an interesting chap to talk to. When he got back into England him and three mates, who were dubbed the four musketeers, travelled around the country in an Austin 7.

“Because petrol was scarce in those days him and his mates hid some in a disused bunker at their base.

“Then one day someone decided they wanted to test out an new gun and thought the bunker made good target practice.

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“Mr Norris said they hit it square on and almost took half the camp out.

“Suffice to say they were without petrol for a few weeks but managed to find some eventually.”

Mr Thorley added that Mr Norris was also a classic car enthusiast, owning a number of Bentleys over this lifetime.

Mr Thorley also said Mr Norris was determined to keep his driving licence despite being so close to being a centurion.

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He said: “He loved classic cars and had many different classic cars over the years, but he didn’t seem to keep hold of them for that long.

“He was determined not to give up his driving licence and when his licence expired on his 97th birthday the crafty old devil got it renewed.

“He said that no one would take it off him and he’ll be buried with it in his top pocket to commemorate that.”

Mr Thorley, who first met Mr Norris in the early 60s, added: “When Mr Norris first came to Driffield I met him when I sold him engine oil for his garage.

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“He was a lovely man and he is going to have a lovely send off.

“His friends have been his family during his life and they have been fantastic.

“It did hit him when his wife died six years ago but he used to speak to his friends virtually every day, and would often speak to them several times a day.

“We hoped he would make it to 100 but sadly he got pneumonia and that got him.”