Preston D-Day hero Cyril is given fitting military send-off

One of Preston’s last D-Day veterans was laid to rest in a ceremony befitting a war hero.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 7:00 am

Cyril Parkinson’s funeral cortege was accompanied by Second World War jeeps and wagons, his coffin was draped in the Union Flag and a lone bugler sounded the Last Post.

“He would have loved it,” said Cyril’s nephew Gary Watkins who directed the funeral and walked at the head of the procession to St Cuthbert’s Church in Fulwood.

“We even had bagpipes for his arrival at the crematorium.

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A piper greets the cortege to Preston Crematorium.

“He loved the Army and doing his bit in the war. He talked about it a lot. It was a fitting send off.”

Cyril, who was awarded France’s highest military honour - the Legion d’Honneur - for the part he played in the D-Day landings in 1944, died in the Royal Preston Hospital, aged 97.

Due to Covid restrictions only 30 mourners were allowed at his church service and at the city’s crematorium later.

“It’s sad because I know there would have been lots more people who would have wanted to be present,” said Gary. “To make sure more people were able to pay their respects we had 30 at the church and then a different group at the crematorium.

Cyril Parkinson landed in Normandy on D-Day.

“It was an incredibly emotional day. Cyril was only five feet tall yet he was a small man with a massive heart. Sadly we have lost another hero and there aren’t many left from World War Two.”

Private Cyril Parkinson was a motorcycle despatch rider with the 8th Battalion of the Middlesex Machine Gun Regiment and was part of the invasion force in Normany on D-Day, landing on Juno Beach.

He saw action through France, Belgium and Hollandand into Germany, where he witnessed the atrocities committed by the Nazis at the Belsen concentration camp.

Cyril was presented with his Legion d’Honneur in 2016, more than 70 years after the Normandy landings.

Cyril's cortege is given an escort of old Army vehicles.

After the war ended his passion for motorbikes continued. He fitted a sidecar to his machine and went on trips around the UK with his wife Vera, who died five years ago.

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Cyril's coffin was draped in the Union Jack topped by his beret and medals.