A hero’s send off for veteran Harry

Harry Lingard at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF).
Harry Lingard at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF).

A former soldier’s heroic war efforts will be celebrated by a guard of honour at his funeral this Friday (November 30).

Harry Lingard, who passed away at 96, endured a dramatic and harrowing military service during the World War Two, serving in the major battle at Arnhem in the Netherlands where he was wounded and captured, and held as a prisoner of war by the Germans.

Harry Lingard in his uniform.

Harry Lingard in his uniform.

Harry’s son, Bryan Lingard, couldn’t believe the response when he contacted the Parachute Regimental Association in Grimsby.

He said: “They just couldn’t do enough for Dad.

“Before I knew it, the coffin was set to be escorted to the church by members of the association, where a British Legion guard of 
honour will be waiting with him - complete with a bugler to play the Last Post.

“I’ve not organised any of this - it’s all thanks to the volunteers. Dad would have loved it.”

Harry Lingard in a 'Leader' interview in later life.

Harry Lingard in a 'Leader' interview in later life.

One of the bloodiest over the course of the conflict, Arnhem, saw nearly 2,000 Allied troops killed and almost another 7,000 captured.

“Like all veterans, Dad was very private about what happened during the war,’ recalled Bryan.

“He landed at Arnhem in a glider with the paratroopers, towed by a Dakota aircraft, with the objective of capturing key bridges from the Germans.

“Intelligence showed that there were German tanks primed and ready, but this was ignored. They never should have gone.”

Against the odds, Harry survived the horrors of Arnhem - but not without a price.

Harry witnessed his captain take a direct hit from a shell, which in turn gave him a shrapnel wound to the leg.

“He saw so much death and destruction”, remarked Bryan, “but he kept it to himself.

“In fact, we only found out about it after an interview he did with the Leader years ago.”

After taking a hit, Harry was taken to a makeshift hospital in a church, where he was captured and taken to Stalag XI-B, a German prisoner of war camp in Lower Saxony, in north-eastern Germany.

And so began months of gruelling captivity. Until, one day, when out on a march supervised by their captors, Harry and a mate decided to make a break for it.

Dodging bullet fire, the pair hid out in an old railway carriage for four nights.

They couldn’t believe their luck when they heard American troops pass by.

They revealed themselves, and were back on English soil within a couple of days - much thinner than they were when they left.

Harry spent a portion of his life at the family home in Scamblesby, and worked as a steward at the Louth Golf Club until his retirement.

A devoted husband and father, he taught Bryan, now 72, the values of work ethic and humility.

In fact, when courting his wife, Doss, Harry proved the most steadfast suitor.

When posted in Boston as a youngster, Harry was given a half-day pass and cycled all the way to Scamblesby to spend time with Doss.

Upon his return to Boston - 51 miles later - his supervisors gave him another 12 hours.

So, gent that he was, he cycled all the way back to Doss again, completing 102 miles in 24 hours.

For Bryan, Harry expressed a devotion and loyalty to his country that isn’t seen today.

“It’s very difficult to appreciate what he went through. But, because of him and countless others like him, we all enjoy an easier life.

“He was proud of what he did, but kept it to himself - he never blew his own trumpet. But we’re all terribly proud of him.”

Harry’s funeral will take place at Scamblesby Church at 10.30am on Friday.

Everyone is welcome, and guests are advised to park at the pub in the village.