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Military funeral for Arctic convoy veteran Bill Sunderland
Standard bearers form a guard of honour and lead the funeral cortege for Bill Sunderland into York Crematorium
HIS coffin draped in the Royal Navy White Ensign flag, Arctic convoy veteran Bill Sunderland was given a guard of honour at his funeral yesterday.
Fellow members of the Royal Naval Association from across the area formed the guard in his honour outside a packed York Crematorium.
As The Press recently reported, Bill, of Foxwood Lane, York, has died aged 87 after a short illness, only months after finally being presented with an Arctic Convoy Star medal in recognition of his work on the Second World War convoys to Russia, when he braved both savagely cold weather and torpedo attacks.
A euology from his family was read out at the funeral by Canon Philip Cousins, chaplain to the Association.
He told how Bill had joined the York Sea Cadets in 1940 and knew that as soon as he was 17, he would join up. After training as a signalman, he joined HMS Serapis as it escorted merchant ships on Russian Convoys through Arctic waters to Murmansk.
He said: “Bill always said ‘all war is terrible, no matter where you served. The thing about the Russian convoys was you could not get off.’ Bill was on 10 convoys, five in each direction.”
Bill was born in April 1926 to John and Coram and lived in his early years in Lawrence Court, Lawrence Street, York, where the kitchen had a small gas ring, no oven and no window - just an old sink with the only water provided by a communal tap in the courtyard.
He said Bill trained as a butcher but later went to work at Ben Johnson’s printing works on Boroughbridge Road, where he became the Father of the Chapel of the SOGAT trades union.
He married the late Audrey Leadbetter and had two children, Alan and Kay.
When he and Audrey retired, they became heavily involved in the Royal Naval Association and he also became a voluntary guide in York.
“Bill was the heart of the family, he was not only a fantastic, husband, dad, brother, grand dad and great grand dad – he was our best friend.
“He would have been delighted to see you all here today. Bill Sunderland has crossed the bar.”
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