Plea for military to attend funeral of Shropshire veteran

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Wilfred DawsonImage source, Family handout
Image caption,
Wilfred Dawson served with RAF Bomber Command during World War Two

A plea has been made for military personnel to attend the funeral of a World War Two veteran.

Wilfred Dawson, 99, served as a wireless operator on RAF Bomber Command in north Africa and Malta, flying on Wellington and Lancaster aircraft.

The family has received a huge response, after an appeal was put out for ex-service people to attend his funeral in Telford, Shropshire.

His granddaughter Susie Phillips said he would be "very humbled".

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Wilfred Dawson and granddaughter Susie Phillips visited Lancaster aircraft Just Jane at a museum in East Kirkby

"In his mind he did what was asked of him and what was needed at the time," she said.

"Even though we said he was a hero, he couldn't see it."

Originally from Smethwick in the West Midlands, Mr Dawson met his wife Winifred - who was from Oldbury and served with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) - while they were both posted in Lincoln.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Wilfred and Winifred Dawson married after meeting while serving with the RAF and WAAF respectively

The two settled in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, where Mr Dawson worked as a transport manager.

They both moved to the Willows Care Home in Codsall about four years ago to be closer to family, before Mrs Dawson died aged 99.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Mr Dawson's granddaughter said he was "always smiling"

Mrs Phillips, who lives in Shifnal, Shropshire, said her grandfather had spoken little about his war service until recent years, but had expressed a desire for his military past to be represented at his funeral.

As a grandfather, she said he was "always smiling", loved gardening and had enjoyed walking holidays with his wife.

"As a family we have lots of happy memories together," she said.

The funeral will take place at Telford Crematorium on Saturday, which would have been Mr Dawson's 100th birthday.

Alistair Park, chairman of the Wrekin and Wellington Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association, has researched Mr Dawson's military service using extracts of his logbook and has helped the family make preparations for the funeral.

He said they had spoken to RAF Cosford and RAF Shawbury, which will have the RAF Association standard flown, local squadrons would send Air Cadets and there would be a bugler to play the Last Post.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Mr Dawson's funeral will take place on Saturday, which would have been his 100th birthday

"In five years of war, he went on a hell of a lot of missions and was one of the few people to escape," he said.

"He sounds like he was quite a character overall."

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