One of the last D Day heroes was laid to rest today - with his beloved Parachute Regiment beret.
Ernie Sedgwick was one of the few surviving British veterans of WWII when he died aged 101 last month.
He had served his country with distinction after he lied about his age to join up in 1937 at the tender age of 16.
His funeral heard stories of his courageous service in the D Day Landings, Dunkirk and the Battle of Arnhem, depicted in the film ‘A Bridge Too Far’.
Ernie was called up again in 1956 during the Suez crisis, before travelling the world, working in Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Australia, and Canada in a variety of jobs.
The service heard how he retired aged 58 to devote himself to his family with grandchildren and great grandchildren living in Spain, Holland and across the UK.
Grandson Theo Lyonette, 30, said his heroics would live on through the stories he told him and his other grandchildren.
“Ernie was many things to many people,” he said. “For us, he was above all a granddad.
“We feel incredibly honoured to have been part of his life.”
His coffin carried floral tributes, the Union flag and his Parachute Regiment beret.
A line of Para veterans stood, head bowed in silent tribute, outside the West Cemetery chapel Darlington, Co Durham as the funeral cortege arrived.
At the end of the service, his regimental colours and the flag of the Royal British Legion was lowered as Ernie made his final journey with his loved ones by his side.
His son Mike, 64, a retired project manager who now lives in Benalup, Spain, told how his father had bumped into his brother Jack - who was serving in the navy - on the beach in Dunkirk.
Jack, who also survived the war, had joined up despite not being able to swim.
“He told my dad ‘I’m sure the navy will teach me,’” Mike recalled yesterday.
His dad would toast his late comrades every day with a tot of whisky.
He received the Legion d’honneur from the French government and the Liberation of Arnhem medal from Holland for his part in Operation Market Garden.
A proud member of the Parachute Regiment, Ernie regularly attended veteran events and had been part of the Second Battalion Durham Light Infantry, the same as Richard Annand, the first soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in WWII.
Ernie went into the Royal Artillery after serving in the DLI, joining the air defence of Great Britain. He moved to the Parachute Regiment and was in the 6th Airborne division at the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944.
He leaves behind Mike, stepdaughters Debbie and Marion; grandchildren Matthew, Theo, Ellis, James and Lesley, with great grandchildren Remy Ernest, Ellis, Eva, and Olivia. His former partner Anthonia Winter died aged 84 in 2021.
The exact number of WWII veterans still alive in the UK is unknown, though a question about military service is now to be included in the census. It is understood there are around 2,500 US survivors of the D Day landings.