Urgent appeal launched for people to attend funeral of 'quiet' Dunkirk and D-Day hero in Hampshire
A DESPERATE call to arms has been launched for mourners to attend the funeral of a D-Day hero who also survived the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Courageous Reg Tegg served in three major amphibious assaults against the Germans, dodging death during invasions of Sicily, Italy and Normandy in the Second World War.
The former Royal Engineer – whose wartime role saw him risking his life to clear minefields while under Nazi attack – died at his nursing home in Sarisbury Green on September 22, aged 101.
But with only a handful of surviving family members, a plea has gone out to the Hampshire’s military community to rally and give a fitting send-off to the ‘quiet hero’ formerly of Wickham and Bishop’s Waltham.
Retired Corporal Mark Stevens, chairman of the Solent and District Branch Royal Engineers Association, issued the appeal after hearing of the granddad-of-three’s death.
The Iraq and Afghanistan veteran said: ‘I sadly never had the chance to meet Reg. But as soon as I heard he had died I knew we had to do something,
‘Reg’s generation – the greatest generation – is now very few in number. These guys were willing, without a moment’s hesitation, to put themselves in the firing line to save their country and the world from Nazism.
‘It’s vitally important we remember them.’
Hundreds of people have already responded to the plea over Facebook and paid tribute to the former ‘Sapper’.
Reg’s daughter Mandy Tegg, 47, of Knowle, was stunned by the response. ‘It has brought me to tears more than once,’ she said.
Reg was part of the first wave to land on Gold Beach during the pivotal invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 – six days before his 26th birthday.
Under constant fire, he was tasked with clearing the beach of Nazi mines. He was later awarded France’s highest military honour for bravery, 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.
Reg fought through the rest of the war before being demobbed in 1946 and spending the rest of his working life as a gardener at Dean Farm, in Bishop’s Waltham, his nephew Martin Oates said.
The 55-year-old, who is a Chief Petty Officer at HMS Sultan in Gosport, added: ‘He was 101 and for six of those years it was carnage, stress and chaos. He lived peacefully after that. He was a quiet hero.’
Mandy added: ‘He was a doting grandfather that loved his grandchildren. You couldn’t have asked for a better grandfather.’
Reg’s funeral is on Tuesday, October 15, at 11.15am at Portchester Crematorium. 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.