We said farewell to another member of St Michael’s congregation today. Ken King was ninety years old. He had spent nearly fifty of those years working on and then supervising local dust carts - and twenty of those years as one of our Churchwardens. He was quiet and unassuming at the back of church each week in retirement, but with a mischievous smile with which to alert me to his depths.
I knew he had seen St Michael’s through some particularly difficult moments in the years before I arrived, but I had no idea until I read in advance the text of the family’s eulogy how significant today’s funeral would be as perhaps the last of a member of the congregation who had served in the Second World War.
One of his granddaughter’s spoke confidently and eloquently about him. In the course of what she said she spoke of his joining up on his eighteenth birthday in 1942 two years ahead of his landing in Normandy on 7th June 1944 (D+1) where he had immediately to begin to clear the bodies of paratroops from crashed gliders.
As a member of the Reconnaissance Corps he then spent most of the rest of the war in front of the front lines observing the movements of the enemy troops, was once blown out of a car which hit a mine, once passed on information about a close encounter with enemy troops for which the absent officer to whom he reported the information was decorated, and being among the first allied troops to reach Belsen about which when he rarely spoke of it the smell at a distance was what he mentioned.
We held him in high regard before we knew any of that. We do so even more. It was a privilege speaking the words to commend him into the hands of God.
The picture is a close up of a view already posted in the middle of May from the diocese’s store of redundant furnishings.