Farewell to hero and former Royal Marine Bill Lester

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IT was a fitting send-off for a hero.

War veterans and serving Royal Marines stood to attention as the coffin of Bill Lester – draped in the Union Flag – arrived at Havant Crematorium.

Royal Marines carry the coffin of 84-year-old Bill Lester, a former Royal Marine. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142896-703)

Royal Marines carry the coffin of 84-year-old Bill Lester, a former Royal Marine. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142896-703)

Every member of the 100 or so congregation knew Mr Lester had achieved something remarkable in his life – a brave act that earned him the acclaimed Military Medal.

Mr Lester, who died last month at the age of 84, will forever be remembered as a hero in military history for his efforts at the Limbang Raid on December 12, 1962.

While serving for Lima Company, 42 Commando, Mr Lester and his comrades were tasked with freeing hostages that were taken by rebels and threatened with death in the town of Limbang in Borneo.

Local barges were used to get to shore as the marines came under heavy fire.

142896_MARINE_1/10/11''Funeral of 85-year-old Bill Lester, a former Royal Marine at Havant Crematorium, Havant.'Bill is known as the Hero of Limbang, after his daring actions as part of a unit that launched an amphibious assault on the town of Limbang in Sarawak, Borneo, during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142896-705) PPP-140110-184312001

142896_MARINE_1/10/11''Funeral of 85-year-old Bill Lester, a former Royal Marine at Havant Crematorium, Havant.'Bill is known as the Hero of Limbang, after his daring actions as part of a unit that launched an amphibious assault on the town of Limbang in Sarawak, Borneo, during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142896-705) PPP-140110-184312001

Mr Lester’s step son-in-law, Lieutenant Commander Neil Hall, who delivered the eulogy, said: ‘With his Troop Commander wounded Bill did not hesitate in taking command and with bayonets fixed led his No 4 Section ashore and in fierce close combat cleared the rebel stronghold – thus allowing the rest of the company to achieve their objectives and safely rescue the hostages.

‘This action has subsequently gone down in history as the epitome of a small unit amphibious assault.

‘It earned Lima Company the title Limbang Company and Bill was forever after known as “The Limbang Legend”.’

Thirty three Royal Marines from Bickleigh Barracks, near Plymouth, attended the funeral to pay their respects and six of them carried in the coffin.

142896_MARINE_1/10/11''Collect picture of Bill Lester. ''Funeral of 85-year-old Bill Lester, a former Royal Marine at Havant Crematorium, Havant.'Bill is known as the Hero of Limbang, after his daring actions as part of a unit that launched an amphibious assault on the town of Limbang in Sarawak, Borneo, during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation.''Picture: Collect PPP-140110-184218001

142896_MARINE_1/10/11''Collect picture of Bill Lester. ''Funeral of 85-year-old Bill Lester, a former Royal Marine at Havant Crematorium, Havant.'Bill is known as the Hero of Limbang, after his daring actions as part of a unit that launched an amphibious assault on the town of Limbang in Sarawak, Borneo, during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation.''Picture: Collect PPP-140110-184218001

The service heard Mr Lester, of Warren Avenue, Milton, (pictured), was always modest about his achievements.

He attained the rank of Sergeant and retired from service in 1969. He went on to help raise a large family with his wife Jean, who died in 1996. He later became the partner of Eileen.

His daughter, Melanie Lester, from Horndean, fought back tears as she read a poem.

She said: ‘People come and people go, but after all, he was my dad, my hero.’

142896_MARINE_1/10/11''Funeral of 85-year-old Bill Lester, a former Royal Marine at Havant Crematorium, Havant.'Bill is known as the Hero of Limbang, after his daring actions as part of a unit that launched an amphibious assault on the town of Limbang in Sarawak, Borneo, during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142896-446) PPP-140110-184229001

142896_MARINE_1/10/11''Funeral of 85-year-old Bill Lester, a former Royal Marine at Havant Crematorium, Havant.'Bill is known as the Hero of Limbang, after his daring actions as part of a unit that launched an amphibious assault on the town of Limbang in Sarawak, Borneo, during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (142896-446) PPP-140110-184229001

The committal included The Last Post and Reveille played by the Royal Marine Bugler.

Major Mark Elliott, from Lima Company 42 Commando, told The News it was their honour to attend the funeral.

‘It’s the adage, once a marine, always a marine,’ he said.