Veterans unite to say goodbye to a Lancashire hero

The legacy of a Second World War pilot who died aged 98 will be kept alive after his wings were passed to a young air trooper 70 years his junior.

Bugler Ryan Cartwright, who is in his early 20s, of Three Army Air Core
Regiment performed The Last Post at Euxton resident Ken Anderton’s funeral
on Friday.

Prior to his death on
August 22, Mr Anderton had presented the young signaller and regimental drummer with the wings he had been given when he became a pilot in 1943.

“Ken was in my regiment,” said Mr Cartwright, speaking after the funeral at Charnock Richard Crematorium in Preston Road. “We are about 70 years apart from each other and we met about three times in his life.

“He presented me with his wings that he was awarded when he became a pilot.

“I’ve got them framed at home.”

The gesture was a significant one as during his army service Mr Anderton was a Horsa Glider pilot. He had come face to face with the enemy as part of the airborne attack on the bridge over the Rhine at Arnhem in 1944.

Mr Anderton was in the first wave of the assault and was in the thick of the fighting for the next six days. When Mr Anderton and his second pilot returned to barracks they were the only two to arrive back.

The veteran, who would have turned 99 in November, has lived in School Lane, Euxton for more than 36 years. As a testament to the high regard fellow villagers viewed him with, Mr Anderton was named a Freeman of Euxton this year.

A close friend, fellow whisky drinker and ex-army veteran, James Freaney, 79, said Mr Anderton had been taken into Chorley and South Ribble General Hospital on September 18 but was gone just days later.

“The guy’s a hero,” he said, speaking before the funeral. “He was taken to Chorley Hospital and they found he was dehydrated and had pneumonia.

“He went in on Friday and died on Tuesday.”

At his funeral, the hearse was escorted to the service by the Riders Branch of the Royal British Legion and then joined by bag pipers from The Grumpy Old Men’s Pipe Band who piped him into the
crematorium with songs including Amazing Grace and ancient Scottish folk tune Flowers of the Forest.

Mr Anderton’s son Alan and his wife Britt-Marie had flown over from their home in Gothenburg, Sweden for the funeral. Mr Anderton’s wife of 68 years, Connie, or Con as he affectionately called her, died three years ago.

His granddaughter Elizabeth, was unable to come all the way from Sweden with her two children, Katie, 11, and Mateo, nine, but had sent a poem to be read at the service.

It was called A Letter From Heaven by Ruth Ann Mahaffey and was read out by the vicar of Euxton Parish Church, Rev Grant Ashton.

Words from one verse say: ‘But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is over.

‘I’m closer to you now than I ever was before.

‘There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;

‘But together we can do it by taking one day at a time.’

During the service, mourners sang the hymn Abide With Me, a favourite of Mr Anderton’s.

The Rev prayed, thanking God for Mr Anderton and for “the memories of Ken we treasure today.”

He also prayed for his family left behind. “Look on mercy on Alan and his family,” he said.

Towards the end of the service, the Rev committed Mr Anderton to God.

As the Last Post was played and flags were lowered, visitors filed out into the rain.

Close family and friends then went on to a buffet lunch at Hinds Head Hotel.

Written by