War hero buried with insignia after U-turn

UNDERTAKER’S AGREEMENT AFTER FEARS OF CATCHING CORONAVIRUS

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

A Korean War veteran who died of coronavirus will be buried with his navy regalia – after the intervention of the South London Press.

Great-grandad Eric Jackson, from East Dulwich, who ran a string of pubs across South London, was being treated at King’s College Hospital, for a bladder cancer and kidney problem.

But by the time care home James Terry Court, in Haling Park Road, Croydon had room for him, the resident of Copleston Road, Eric, above, had caught Covid-19 and died on March 14.

His son Antony was devastated that Eric, who served for 14 years in the navy, would not be able to wear his vessel’s insignia and reunion dress at the funeral on Monday at Honor Oak Crematorium. Funeral directors Frank Chapell, of Lordship Lane, Dulwich, had not wanted to endanger staff – who are high-risk key workers – by changing his hospital clothes.

They initially offered to transfer his body to any other undertaker who would lay him to rest in the uniform, when contacted by the South London Press, on May 27.

But the following day they offered to collect his treasured clothes and add them to the coffin.

A spokesman for the firm said: “We have every sympathy for the family and friends of Mr Jackson. It is extremely sad someone cannot be dressed how they wished for their funeral under current circumstances.

Eric, aged 17

“To provide enhanced protection to our key-workers we reduce any physical contact with any potential source of infection. “We are not currently providing a re-dressing service for people who have died of Covid-19 because of the risk of the virus being passed on to our colleagues and other people they come into contact with at hospitals, nursing homes and funerals.

“We have agreed with the family that any items of significance, such as clothing, can be placed inside the coffin prior to the funeral. His coffin will be appropriately dressed with a flag of honour.”

Serving on HMS Bulwark

Antony said: “I would like to thank the South London Press. It has made a difference.

“He should not have died of coronavirus. But the longer you are in hospital with other patients who have it, the greater the chance you will get it. The care home was all geared up – I just needed to get him out of the ward. But the staff kept saying he should not come out – for two weeks.

“The last time I spoke to him was three weeks before he died. I don’t want undertakers to take risks that nurses face every day.

“But I could not find anything in the government guidelines which did not allow him to be buried how he would have wanted. ”

Receiving the Freedom of the City

Eric Joined the navy aged 17 in 1949. On destroyer HMS Concord he spent 2 ½ years on active duty during the Korean War. He also served on HMS Bulwark and HMS Eagle before returning home in 1963.

He ran several pubs in South London, including the Montpelier in Choumert Road, Peckham, until becoming the landlord of The Herne Tavern, Dulwich.

He was married to Vera for 50 years, until she died aged just 69, 16 years ago – they had two sons, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.


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