Military Funerals

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by emptyeye, Jul 23, 2008.

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  1. Gentlemen and Ladies of AARSE

    It has sprung to me that in the next few years we might have a whole load of vets very sadly leaving this earth, many have left the Service some time ago but as we all know, its part of them until they die, many cling onto it.

    We also know they won’t get a military funeral (not entitled) so I was thinking, why not have an ex serving retired bearer party to carry the old fella form the hearse to where ever but as a business to hire out for that sad occasion.

    Logistics of it all, of course there would be a cost, (travelling, time off etc) but advertised properly, 10-20 guys on the books, dressed in blues, lots on eBay (no headdress) old rank on arm/sleeve and wearing issued medals but also as we have retired, wear the General Service Badge,[​IMG]

    Its very generic and it would mean uniformity. Lovely shiny boots, giving the old fella the best send off, no cap badge rivalry, Regular or TA (ACF/CCF not included unless they are ex Reg/TA)

    For my brother jocks it would be blues or nothing, no kilts or spats, uniformity is the key

    Of course current firearm legislation doesn’t allow us to have a firing party, but, I’m sure we could find a bugler to play the last post an or piper to play a lament and both to be part of the same team too

    Advertise in The legion magazine, local papers etc, turn up dress off, carry from house to hearse, hearse to grave etc, lower into grave, fall out get some jerricans down your face at the wake.

    It would be as a business tastefully done, gets the image of the military back into the public eye, who looks after our own???

    Cost model to consider

    X number of blues, various sizes (eBay)
    Ammo boots of different sizes or shoes (eBay)
    General Service Corps collar Dogs (eBay)
    Binding and stands for coffin (various)
    Union Flag

    edit to add if that kit is availalable that is

    Views and problems with the idea so far?
  2. Just to add, I have done my senior all arms drill course so training isnt an issue
  3. ”in the next few years we might have a whole load of vets very sadly leaving this earth”

    Might have??? The millions who served in WWII have been dying and continue to do on a daily basis, what’s special about ‘the next few years’?

    What you’re proposing is a commercial service and if intended to be selective, e.g. “(ACF/CCF not included unless they are ex Reg/TA)”, you appear prepared to disappoint a relative at a bad time because YOU decide their NoK doesn’t meet YOUR criteria. A commercial service is a commercial service. You have availability, they have the money, it takes places.

    Re “10-20 guys on the books”, presumably if they all live around say Aldershot, are freely available at short notice to travel to say Aberdeen? And, it doesn’t matter how many you have ‘on the books’, they need to be reliable, thoroughly drilled and the party selected are all of the same height at the shoulder. Need not apply to a group of family and friends volunteering to help out, but you are charging for a formal service and you MUST have it right.

    Four strong, fit men who know what they’re doing could manage (50-70 pounds at the shoulder), but six makes things easier and allows for a margin. Of course, you do appreciate that if the deceased is to be placed in a tomb (still a lot of old family tombs about) and not put in the ground, by law they MUST be in a lead coffin inside the wooden one – what they generally refer to as ‘lead-lined’ but I assure you it’s two boxes. You ever carried one of those?

    “carry from house to hearse, hearse to grave etc”. – ‘house to hearse’? Not saying it doesn’t happen, (check National law and Bye-laws), but more typical, hospital to funeral parlour (by licensed Undertaker), viewing in Chapel if wanted/possible unless ‘closed coffin’ specified, then funeral parlour to cemetery.

    “we could find a bugler to play the last post an or piper to play a lament”. – Worked with buglers and pipers have you? The times I’ve had to overdub ‘The Last Post’ on a video because the bugler discovered notes previously unknown to man. Just above freezing with rain in your face it can’t be easy to suddenly form a perfect lip for the ex-Boys Brigade old timer – I do sympathise. St John’s Ambulance have some nice pipers in their band.

    I don’t say your intentions are misplaced, but for anyone wanting a military themed send-off there is an alternative easier, and cheaper, to orchestrate. Work with the Undertaker and the Minister. Give the Undertaker a flag to drape over the coffin. “Ah yes but……” – just do it. The hearse usually goes first to the cemetery chapel, not the grave, for the family salutations, then to the graveside – unless it’s a cremation of course. Deliver lengthy eulogies/reflections in the chapel as prolonged time graveside can cause undue distress to some – not to mention weather conditions. Suggest leaving the military aspect to the graveside. Consider having the hearse take the coffin at least part of the way from the chapel, especially if a large cemetery and the grave is a good distance from the chapel. Better to let the Undertakers walk the coffin to the grave but you can arrange with them to have friends/family do this (whether in uniform or not) provided that those doing the task rehearse what they are going to do and appreciate the weight for the distance to be covered. Need to know how the coffin exits the hearse or if the Undertakers will extract it.

    Have a good portable player with ‘Last Post – minute’s silence – Rouse’ pre-recorded for use graveside AFTER checking this is OK with the cemetery. Short salutation at the graveside – if none to do it give the short text to the Minister IN ADVANCE and they’ll do it. Minister/other to follow with ‘They shall grow not old’ etc, when finished start to lower and when lowering has stared cue ‘Last Post’ (you have about 1 minute 10, time the recording. If there is a mechanical lowerer get time of this). Minutes silence, when Rouse starts folk scatter earth and move off, Minister remains till end. Minister and Undertakers NEED to know schedule IN ADVANCE.

    If your men are involved and do the lowering, once lowered they stand back aways from the grave in line and march off when the Minister leaves.

    “fall out get some jerricans down your face at the wake”. Err………not really. You discretely and efficiently sod off like the Undertakers do after bidding farewell to the chief mourner – i.e. the one who engaged you.

  4. Sorry, soon as that was mentioned the whole idea went out the window for me, seems to me as though, you should be at the wake. Your not their to get a few jerrycans down your neck, you would be there to provide the last ride in a dignified manner. Infact if asked you should have one drink and go, end of.

    As has been said, thousands are sadly passing on, you would'nt be able to provide the service, what sort of insurance cover would you have, if say you couldnt make the funeral for a myriad of reasons, any training in working with deceased families??

    Rates of pay, terms of condition, insurance,company law,sole trader or limited company.
  5. I will be croaking some time in the next few years, and would shuffle off more happily if I knew that I would be attended by someone who knows the drill (no pun intended).
  6. This idea is absurd!

    My father was one of those people who wasn't entitled to a military funeral. After 36 years in the Navy, he waited until after he left to snuff it. Therefore no military funeral.


    The undertaker was ex Navy, arranged for him to have the Union Flag on the coffin (he couldn't have the White Ensign because he wasn't serving when he died)

    All those who were still serving were encouraged to wear uniform, and a letter to the Director of Music at the Royal Marine School of Music secured a Bugler to play the Last Post.

    So my point is that it isn't that difficult to achieve a military style funeral, without having to employ a bunch of former soldiers masquerading as members of the General Service Corps, who are more interested in the nibbles and beer after the cermony is over!

    Besides, my father would never had stood for a pongo carrying his coffin! :D
  7. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    Families usually ask for a simple thing. A bugler o ra cap with badge, occassionally I get asked if I can arrange for ashes to be scattered at sea by the family of a matelot but I have never heard anything like this.. As Scarletto says it appears to be more for you and your mates that the family of the deceased.
    I have personnally carried many family members on my shoulders & believe me my civilian brother's in law did not need coaching in drill to know how to do for their loved ones.