Plea for veterans to salute Chorley wartime hero

John Valentine (far left) with are crew between sorties.
John Valentine (far left) with are crew between sorties.

Wartime pilot John Valentine regularly put his life on the line to keep Britain safe from invasion more than 75 years ago.

Now an appeal has gone out for other veterans to make sure the Bomber Command flier gets the hero’s send-off he deserves when he takes his final salute next week.

Ex-RAF man John died last week at the age of 96 and has no known relatives. It was feared his funeral would attract only a handful of mourners.

So friends are urging ex-servicemen and women to turn out in force a week on Friday to give him a fitting farewell when he is buried in Chorley.

“It would be a crying shame if John went to his grave unrecognised for his wartime service,” said Kinga Grzeczynska, administrator at St Mary’s RC Church in Chorley where the funeral service will take place on Friday March 13 at noon..

“He doesn’t have any family living, but he has Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as his family. So we are putting a call out to veterans in Lancashire to come and support him in his last salute.”

John had been a resident of the Gillibrand Care Home in Chorley in recent years. His service record shows he joined the RAF in 1941 and trained to be a pilot with Bomber Command.

He flew in Wellington bombers and later Lancasters. At the end of the war he was transferred to Tripoli in Lybia until he was demobbed.

Away from the RAF he was a cost accountant at Leyland Vehicles until he retired in 1989.

He continued flying planes from Blackpool Airport and was a member of the Blackpool Air Crew Association.