Family and friends have paid their respects to Arctic convoy veteran Eddie Grenfell at his funeral today.
The funeral of the 93-year-old retired navy commander took place this morning at Portsmouth’s Anglican cathedral.
Representatives of the Royal Navy, Russia, Germany, Portsmouth City Council, and The News were present along with Eddie’s family and friends.
A lone piper played Amazing Grace as Eddie’s coffin, draped in a Union Jack, was carried into the cathedral.
Following behind were members of his family including daughters Trudie and Erika.
They were joined by Eddie’s friends, colleagues, MPs Mike Hancock, Caroline Dinenage, and Penny Mordaunt, and the leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson.
There were also representatives of the Royal Navy, Russian and German embassies, and The News.
They were united in their grief at the loss of the veteran commander, who fought for almost two decades for an Arctic Star medal for his colleagues.
Speaking after his funeral, Trudie Grenfell, 64, from Southsea, told The News: ‘Everything that happened was exactly what I dreamed would happen for my father’s funeral.
‘Everybody I have spoken with has said it went so well and I know he would have been happy.
‘It was wonderful to see how many people came to say farewell.’
Eddie’s death came less than 24 hours after several of his colleagues received their Arctic Star medals in a ceremony at Portsmouth Guildhall.
The veteran commander had received his own medal from the UK’s most senior military officer, the Chief of Defence Staff General Sir David Richards, earlier in the year.
Despite the Arctic Star campaign coming to a close, Eddie was not done
He immediately turned his attention to urging the government to reconsider its decision to bar veterans from receiving the Russian Medal of Ushakov.
And only a few days before Eddie’s death, a U-turn was announced.
Trudie added: ‘In his last days he was unable to speak but I told him of the news that the Russian Medal of Ushakov was to be awarded and he smiled and nodded his head.
‘He also received a lovely letter from the Chief of Defence Staff which I read to him and he was smiling the whole way through.’
Yesterday’s funeral service was led by Canon Michael Tristram, the canon pastor at the cathedral, who said: ‘It is a sad time, because however long a person has lived, and however seemingly poetic his death having finally achieved his goal, his death seems so final, an end of an era.
‘Today we gather not only to pay our last respects to Eddie, but also to give thanks to God for Eddie’s earthly life among us, for the huge number of ways he brought good to others, for the many ways he enriched the communities in which he lived and served, and for the inspiration he brought to us all.’
‘It was Eddie’s wish that no-one speak at his funeral other than the member of clergy taking the service, so it was my privilege to take the service.
‘We gathered not only to pay our last respects to Eddie, but also to give thanks to God for Eddie’s life, for the huge number of ways he brought good to others, for the many ways he enriched the communities in which he lived and served, and for the inspiration he brought to us all.’
After the ceremony, Eddie’s coffin was taken to be cremated in a private service.
It was his wish that nobody be present for the cremation ceremony.
Afterwards, mourners gathered for a wake at The Dolphin in Old Portsmouth’s High Street.
Tributes previously had poured in following Eddie’s death on June 29 from all corners of the globe, including family, friends, and top naval officers.
Anyone who would like to send donations, which will go to the Rowans Hospice, can send them to the Co-Operative Funeral Directors at 131 Eastney Road, PO4 8DZ.
Eddie died at the end of last month. Just three months earlier he became the first veteran to be awarded the Arctic Star after the 17-year fight that he led, supported by The News, for proper recognition for the sailors who served in the Arctic Convoys that ensure supplies reached Russia in World War II.
Fellow veterans turn out to see their comrade off
AMONG those who attended Commander Eddie Grenfell’s funeral were a number of colleagues, friends, and military personnel.
The standard of the southern branch of the Russian Convoy Club was laid in the cathedral and standard bearers escorted Eddie’s coffin inside.
A number of veterans attended the service, along with a representative of the Russian military.
Lieutenant Commander Dick Dykes, 93, was Eddie’s deputy during the Arctic Convoy campaign.
He said: ‘It was obviously a very sad occasion but good to see so many people turn out for him.
‘When I heard his time was near I wrote to the Russian Embassy to ask if he could quickly be presented with his Medal of Ushakov but sadly I did not hear anything
‘If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had any sense he could have been presented with it a long time ago.’
A piper from the Royal Naval Pipers’ Society played while Eddie’s coffin was brought in and out of the cathedral.
Veteran Alan Flavell, 82, travelled from Hertfordshire to attend the funeral.
He said: ‘The service was very good and it was good to see all these people.
‘For more than 10 years he has fought ever so hard for recognition for all Arctic Convoy veterans so it was only right we should come to bid him farewell.’