World War 2 veteran laid to rest with military honours
PUBLISHED: 15:58 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:18 27 November 2017
Archant Norfolk 2017
People lined the streets in the village of Mattishall on Friday to pay their respects to a World War Two veteran who died at the age of 95.
Jack ‘Griff’ Griffiths, who sadly passed away on November 5, was laid to rest with full military honours at the All Saints Church in Mattishall.
The commemoration began with a procession through the village, followed by a military fly-past from two Apache helicopters.
The congregation of family and friends were joined by current and former service personnel, with many dressed in their military uniforms.
Beverley Cooper, who delivered a eulogy and was a close friend to Mr Griffiths, said: “Jack was a great man and he was part of the greatest generation.”
Mr Griffiths will be remembered for his love of flying and his bravery in the Second World War when he was among those evacuated from Dunkirk and a member of the elite Glider Pilot Regiment involved in the D-Day landings.
In one of his most daring moments he escaped from a Nazi prisoner of war camp after being captured during a mission to transport men and machinery, used in the assault on Arnhem.
The Stalag Luft IVB camp at Muhlberg, near Leipzig was surrounded by 16ft barbed wire topped fences and watched by 200 armed guards but when the allies began closing in Sgt Griffiths and a group of other POWs seized the opportunity.
“We didn’t plan it,” he said. “We just seized the moment and ran like hell to a wooded area half a mile away and collapsed, exhausted.”
He was later rescued by Russian and American troops in the German town of Torgau.
France awarded him with the Legion d’Honneur in 2015. The French order of merit has been given to many veterans as a way of honouring and thanking those who fought and risked their lives to liberate France during the war.
In Norfolk Mr Griffith was an active member of the Norfolk Gliding Club, even in his 90s.
Mike Hoy, chairman of the club, paid tribute to him shortly after he passed away, calling him “an absolute star who will be sorely missed.”
He added: “Club members feel honoured and privileged to have known such a great and wonderful man who gave his time, effort, understanding and stories to all.”