CAMPAIGNERS who issued a rallying cry for mourners to attend the funeral of a decorated D-Day veteran have been ‘overwhelmed’ by the public’s support.
The call to arms was launched to honour former Royal Engineer Sapper, Reg Tegg, who died last month, aged 101.
Courageous Reg served in three major amphibious assaults against the Germans during the Second World War in Sicily, Italy and Normandy and survived the retreat from Dunkirk in 1940.
However, it was feared only a handful of people would attend the war hero’s funeral next week, at Portchester Crematorium.
The news prompted Mark Stevens, chairman of the Solent and District Branch Royal Engineers Association, to appeal to Hampshire’s military community.
And the plea has since gone viral on Facebook, with almost 1,100 people sharing the The News’ report and hundreds more commenting.
Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Mark was stunned by the response. He said: ‘It’s been overwhelming. It reaffirms your belief in humanity, it’s just absolutely brilliant. I’m just bursting with joy and pride.’
Reg’s funeral is expected to take place at 11.15am on Tuesday and is expected to now be attended by well-wishers from across the UK.
Among them will include a number of current and former Royal Engineers who have pledged to provide a guard of honour for the D-Day veteran, Mr Stevens said.
A bugler and bagpiper are expected to provide music on the day. It’s hoped a group from the Royal British Legion Bikers will escort Reg’s hearse into the crematorium.
Reg, who lived in Wickham and Bishop’s Waltham, was part of the first wave to land on Gold Beach during the pivotal invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
Under constant fire, he was tasked with clearing the beach of Nazi mines. He was later awarded the Légion d'Honneur for his role.
Four years before D-Day, Reg had been part of a valiant rear-guard defence during the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Serving with the French, he was tasked with blowing up bridges to stall the German advance and give the 100,000 stranded Allied troops time to be rescued. He eventually fled on a French fishing boat, one of the last to leave the beach.
He later saw action in North Africa narrowly surviving the annihilation of his unit, 232 Field Company, during the siege of Tobruk before then clearing a minefield at night ahead of the pivotal victory at El Alamein, in Egypt.
Amphibious invasions of Sicily and Salerno, in Italy, followed, before returning to the UK with the 50th Northumbrian division to take part in D-Day.
Well-wishers are urged to donate money to children’s hospice Naomi House & Jacksplace.
Reg leaves his daughter Mandy, three grandchildren, Ashley, 22, Nathan, 21, and Marshall, 16, wife Mary, 86, and nephew Martin.