TRIBUTES have been paid to a decorated war veteran who died suddenly aged 44.
Robert Sadler died on July 16 at his home on Hayling Island of a suspected heart attack.
More than 200 people, led by his mum Jane, dad Geoff and sister Jill packed into the chapel at Portchester Crematorium to pay their respects to the highly decorated veteran.
The Rev Pennie Payne, a cousin of Robert’s, led the service, and said: ‘There is sorrow because his life has ended so suddenly, but in Rob’s book of life, his courage leaps out of the page.’
In 2004 Robert was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service after he finished his 10th tour of duty in Northern Ireland.
He had also completed numerous other tours of duty including Bosnia, Rwanda and Afghanistan.
And he was also the standard bearer for the Hayling Island branch of the Royal British Legion.
Robert served with the 1st Battalion the Queen’s Regiment and the 2nd Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, where he was known as Sid, and was a colour sergeant when he retired about two years ago.
Iain Reeves, one of Robert’s army colleagues said: ‘Sid was a true bloke. My friend, my buddy and a true, true companion to anybody who needed it.
‘You would never meet a more loyal person.’
He recalled Robert’s ‘beaming, infectious smile,’ and also told how he was a passionate Pompey fan and loved his guitar.
He finished by saying: ‘For me, for everybody here – you’ve done us proud. Stand down.’
Among the many army colleagues in full ceremonial dress or wearing regimental ties, were dozens wearing Pompey shirts – as requested by Robert.
Mrs Payne said afterwards: ‘He was a very humble man and I think he would have been gobsmacked by the turnout.
‘He had his professionalism, but he also touched everyone he came into contact with.
‘His sense of humour, his love and his compassion – he was larger than life.’
A wake was held afterwards at the Royal British Legion Club on Hayling Island.
An inquest into his death has been opened and adjourned. The cause of death was recorded as unascertained.
A date has not been set for the full inquest.