‘Last’ Royal Navy veteran of Dunkirk dies aged 102

Lawrence Churcher died at his care home just days short of his 103rd birthday.

‘Last’ Royal Navy veteran of Dunkirk Lawrence Churcher dies aged 102 Family/ @Vanguard_WW2

A former sailor believed to be the last Royal Navy veteran from Dunkirk has died at the age of 102.

Lawrence Churcher, who was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, died at a care home in nearby Fareham, just days short of his 103rd birthday, according to the Project 71 charity which supports Second World War veterans.

The charity, which said Mr Churcher was thought to be the last known naval veteran of the evacuation, posted on Facebook: “A truly remarkable man, loved and respected by all who knew him.

“Stand down Lawrence, your duty is done. It has been an honour to have known you.”

Mr Churcher, who was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, was posted to HMS Eagle at the start of the war and landed in France in May 1940 to help supply ammunition to the front lines and was posted to a railhead outside Dunkirk.

The charity said: “When he, together with thousands of others of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) was ordered to pull back to the beaches, he began looking for the Hampshire Regiment in the hope of finding his two brothers, Edward and George.

“Amazingly they met each other and managed to sail back to the UK on the same ship.”

Mr Churcher is reported to have said: “When my brothers found me, I just felt relief.

“There were so many soldiers there and continuous aircraft dropping bombs and strafing us, I had so many things on my mind until I got on board of our ship.

“One fella leaned on my shoulder, gave a sigh of relief and said ‘Thank God we’ve got a Navy’ and that sort of churned it up inside of me. We knew we had to get those soldiers back from Dunkirk.”

Mr Churcher went on to serve in the Mediterranean, at D-Day and ended the war in the Far East.

He later became a football referee and became Portsmouth FC’s oldest fan.

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