Fitting salute as scores gather for D-Day hero James Johnston's funeral in Northumberland
D-Day hero James Johnston, who was killed in a tragic road accident earlier this month, was given a fitting funeral in honour of his devotion to his country.
Droves of people from the military joined civilians to pay their respects to the 96-year-old former Paratrooper who was laid to rest following a service at Sacred Heart Church in Amble.
Known affectionately as Johnny, the great-grandfather died, along with Pearl Smith, 96, of Wooler, while travelling home to Amble after paying his respects to fellow Forces Personnel at Sunderland’s Brothers in Arms Memorial Wall and Veteran’s Walk.
Standard bearers and a piper led a horse-drawn hearse as the hero made his final journey.
Johnny was a well-known local character who would travel to Normandy for milestone anniversaries of the historic D-Day landings. As well as his many medals, he would wear the tartan trousers of the Cameron Highlanders, who he joined at 14 before signing up for the Parachute Regiment, and it made him instantly recognisable at the occasions.
His fighting spirit stayed with him after the war and, as he approached 60, he took up marathon running, taking part in races all over the world.
In honour of his final act, paying his respects to fellow Forces Personnel, a stone will be laid in his memory at Sunderland’s Veterans’ Walk in Mowbray Park which honours past and present airmen, soldiers, sailors and the Merchant Navy.
A stone is also being laid in honour of fellow crash victim Pearl Smith who had served in the WAF.