EX-SERVICEMEN and members of the public paid tribute to murdered soldier Lee Rigby in Hartlepool on the day of the drummer’s funeral.
Former Royal Fusiliers and other veterans attended the service at the town’s war memorial in Stranton Cemetery at 11am yesterday.
Similar services played out up and down the country as thousands of mourners gathered for the funeral of Drummer Rigby’s, a Fusilier himself, in Bury, Greater Manchester.
Hartlepool’s low-key service was organised by former town Fusiliers.
Former Fusilier Billy Reid, who laid a wreath at the war memorial, said: “We couldn’t let today go by without paying our respects to one of our fallen.
“There will literally have been thousands of similar services like this all over the country.
“We didn’t have much time to spread the word as much as we would have liked but the turnout was fantastic.”
Billy’s brother Frank, a former fusilier and the Mail’s deputy chief photographer, added: “Today has been about a coming together of the Fusilier family.
“Our motto is once a fusilier, always a fusilier and I think that has bene proven today more than at any other time.” Service veterans paraded bearing standards for organisations including the Hartlepool branch of the Royal Artillery Association, the Royal British Legion and Women’s Royal Army Corps.
Bugler Tony Longstaff, from Middlesbrough, played the Last Post as the standards were lowered and a number of members of the public watched on in respectful silence.
There was then a short wreath laying at the memorial before everyone fell out.
Tug Wilson, secretary of Hartlepool Combined Ex-Servicemen’s Association, said: “We are here today to pay tribute to Drummer Rigby and the events that unfolded and to show our support for the serving troops.”
Fusilier Rigby, a drummer in the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed as he returned to Woolwich barracks in south east London on May 22.
He had served in Afghanistan as a machine gunner and was attached to the regimental recruiting team when he was hacked to death in broad daylight in the street.
The horrific killing sparked nationwide shock and revulsion and led to an outpouring of support for his family from the public.
In his eulogy his commanding officer, Colonel Jim Taylor, said he was: “A larger-than-life personality, he loved to perform and belonged in the Second Fusiliers’ Corps of Drums.
“He was truly charismatic.”