Hundreds attend lonely WW2 vet’s funeral

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Troop Sergeant Major Stewart Cooney

LEEDS, England — He was a man with no one to mourn him, but still had his life celebrated by hundreds.

95-year-old Stewart Cooney, a World War 2 veteran who served in the Royal Artillery, died in a nursing home in Leeds, England last month, according to the BBC. His wife, Betty, passed away in 2008, and the couple’s adopted son, Niall, died in 2014.

When Dougie Eastwood discovered that Cooney’s funeral would only be attended by a carer from the nursing home and a social worker, he made an appeal for others to attend, contacting the 269 Royal Artillery battery and the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“We’re in the world for such a short time, no one deserves to go to the grave without being recognized,” he told the BBC. “It didn’t feel right someone who served his country should pass by unnoticed.”

Hundreds ended up attending the funeral, including Royal British Legion standard bearers, a piper and soldiers from his old regiment. Also in attendance were Army Reserve soldiers and Royal British Legion Riders, acting as a motorcycle escort.

“We never let a brother go alone, said Martyn Simpson, an organizer.

It was standing room only in the crematorium, with those who could not fit watching the funeral on screens outside.