THE Armed Forces are sometimes dubbed ‘the biggest family in the world’ and today proved exactly that.
Scores of mourners turned out at Fareham Cemetery, Wickham Road, to see off Rodney ‘Vic’ Silvester, a veteran who served on nuclear submarines for many years.
Vic, 67, died last week at QA Hospital after losing his fight with cancer.
Prior to his death, he had spent a short time at Woodland Court residential care home in Portchester.
Not much had been known about Vic before his death as he had become withdrawn after his friends and family had all died.
His one remaining cousin came forward to organise the funeral, but when Supporting Veterans in Care Facebook group heard that Vic faced a lonely funeral, it put out a plea for mourners.
The British Legion and the Submariners’ Association heard about the funeral and followed suit.
Today, representatives from the groups and people who had read the plea in The News turned out in Fareham.
A service was held where mourners heard about Vic’s career at HMS Dolphin, on HMS Odin and on HMS Dreadnought, before he was laid to rest.
A bugler played the Last Post as his coffin was committed to the ground.
John Harper, from Bognor Regis, is Vic’s second cousin. He said: ‘I think what these guys do is fabulous, absolutely superb. I didn’t expect such a large turn out, it’s brilliant. I would like to say thank you very much for everybody for turning out. Rod would have been chuffed to bits, so would his dad. He would have loved every bit of it.’
Roy Dixon, from Gosport, is part of the Submariners’ Association. He said: ‘We heard that Vic had passed and the information was very scant but one significant factor was that we had heard only one member of family had been in contact. So we decided that we would not let the side down, and do what we would always do and attend the funeral of a fellow submariner. I’m so pleased that the turn out is as good as this, from all walks of navy life, surface ships, bombers, diesel boats, there’s even a green beret here which is really something.’
Lisa Smith and Tamie Pye, staff from Vic’s care home, were at the funeral.
Tamie said: ‘He came out of his shell once he came to us. He was like a new man.’
Lisa said: ‘He kept himself to himself but he did like to have a good chat, especially about his navy days.’
Father Paul Miles-Knight led the service . He said: ‘It is amazing to see. At the start there was only going to be me and three others here but thanks to the wonders of the internet, the veterans got together. He would have been proud.’