THE roar of a Spitfire filled the air as a Second World War hero was given a fitting send off.
Stan Franks was laid to rest at Basildon Crematorium with full military honours, having previously been set for a pauper’s funeral.
Stan, a Bomber Command pilot in the RAF, flew 31 missions over Germany by the time he was 19.
But the 88-year-old was going to have a pauper’s funeral with no money or family nearby.
However, the community rallied together and raised £3,000 for a fitting funeral, complete with a flypast by a Spitfire.
Stan died at his home, in Vange Park Road, Fobbing, in October.
His death only became known after a waitress at the Five Bells pub, who served him every day, became concerned for his welfare.
The community came together to raise money for the funeral with any surplus cash being sent to help other veteran RAF personnel.
Hundreds turned out to Stan’s funeral on Friday, with veterans and young cadets giving him a guard of honour. Standard bearers from British Legion groups stood to recognise the RAF veteran, and members from the RAF Association also attended.
Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, and Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price attended along with Squadron Leader Rick Fryer, who is the RAF station commander at RAF Mildenhall.
After the service, friends returned to Stan’s favourite pub, the Five Bells. Jim Gooding, chairman of Thurrock RAF Association, said: “It was excellent and very well attended.
Everyone said afterwards he had the marvellous send off he deserves.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has given his own tribute to Mr Franks in the Houses of Parliament after hearing about his dedication to his country.
He said: “The story of Stan Franks is a truly remarkable one.
“It is a real reminder to our generation of just how much previous generations put in to make sure we could live in freedom.
“We should never forget those brave crews in Bomber Command.
“So many now are coming to the end of their lives – so many who did so much for our country.”