War veteran who led Remembrance parade for 43 years honoured posthumously - The Leamington Observer

War veteran who led Remembrance parade for 43 years honoured posthumously

Laura Kearns 31st May, 2017   0

A ‘LOYAL and modest’ D-day veteran from Lillington has been honoured posthumously after he died before being made an Honorary Freeman of Warwick.

Bryan Johnson died in March at the age of 95.

For 43 years he had led Warwick’s Remembrance Sunday parade, only handing over the baton last year.

With no family to arrange the funeral his fellow servicemen feared the British Empire Medal winner would be buried a pauper.

But he was given a proper send-off by more than 100 mourners at St Mary Magdalene Church after army friends and museum staff stepped in to arrange the service.

Warwick Mayor Stephen Cross said: “Having no direct family his funeral took sometime to organise. People attended to honour a man described as loyal, dedicated and modest.

“I was proud to represent Warwick to pay our respects to a man who had served his country and the town throughout his life.”

Bryan had lived in Leamington since the 50s and had joined the army in 1941 where he served in the 5th Royal Tank Regiment.

He was commander of the first tank to go into the French town of Bethune, signifying the start of the town’s liberation and earning him the prestigious Legion d’Honneur medal from the French government.

After the war he served in the in the Warwickshire Yeomanry, and helped create the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum in 1981 where he served as curator for 31 years.

He was given the British Empire Medal in 1980 as part of the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

It was his dedicated service to the town which led to Warwick Town Council deciding to make him an honorary freeman.

The mayor added: “Unfortunately he passed away before the ceremony could be conducted. The award was made posthumously and the scroll was presented for display in the museum.”

Museum volunteers say they have placed a picture of Bryan in the building on Jury Street to remember him.

A spokesman from the museum said: “Bryan was quiet and reserved when he wanted to be. He was in every way the true embodiment of a yeoman – service, commitment and dedication.

“Those of us who have worked with him will have fond memories of days gone by. Bryan will be remembered in so many different ways, but as far as the museum volunteers are concerned he taught us how to engage with the public.

“During the early 1980s he helped others to establish the museum and its fitting that his image is at the head of the museum stairs as a constant reminder of all that he stood for.”


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