Guard of honour for Sunderland war hero Charles Eagles as veterans join friends and family to celebrate his life

Fellow ex-servicemen and women turned out to ensure a war hero who took part in the D-Day landings was given a fitting send off after his death aged 94.

Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 15:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th February 2019, 15:32 pm
Charles Eagle is carried into Sunderland Crematorium as his friends and family gathered at his funeral.

Charles Eagles' name is also known across Wearside for the camera shop business he established in Sunderland city centre.

Charles Eagle is carried into Sunderland Crematorium as his friends and family gathered at his funeral.

He was awarded France's highest military honour, the Legion d’Honneur medal, at a ceremony at Durham Cathedral in 2014 to mark his role in helping liberate France from Nazi occupation.

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He had been just 19-years-old when he landed on Gold Beach on June 6, 1944.

His medals adorned his coffin, which was draped with the Union Flag, as he was carried into Sunderland Crematorium to the sound of the Jerusalem as the standards of the DLI Association branches from the city, Horden and Peterlee, Washington, Durham and Stockton were lowered as he passed.

They were joined by branches from Chester-le-Street and Darlington among others as they gathered for the service, which was left with standing room only and was led by DLI chaplain Reverend Kenneth Crawford.

Charles Eagles revisited Normandy with other veterans as he paid his respects to those lost during the Second World War and help others to understand the conflict he and others faced during the D-Day Landings.

Friend Clive Bowery, who became friends with Charles and his family through the DLI Association, led a reflection of his life, speaking of his early working years and his time in the Army, his business, love for photography and his devotion to his family.

He said: "Charles Edwin Eagles, what a man, what a life.

"Although this is a sad, melancholy day, we should be gladdened when we reflect upon Charles' life, his achievements, his personality, his friendship."

He concluded his speech by saying: "And now he has gone, but his memory and spirit will live on within all who knew him.

Members of the DLI Association lowered their standards as Charles Eagles and his friends and family filed in for the service.

"I shall miss the cheerful greeting in his own inimitable way of 'Hello mate' and departure of 'aye, look after yourself.'

"Charles was a remarkable man, a true gentleman in every sense of the word and I consider it an honour and a source of great pride to have known him, but above all I am proud and privileged to have called him my friend."

Related: Charles Eagles was a true gentlemanThe DLI standards were again lowered during the ceremony before the commendation Frank Sinatra's My Way played as the service came to a close.

Away from the service, Michael McMahon, chairman of Sunderland's branch of the DLI Association, said: "We attend all DLI ex-servicemen's ceremonies, but of course Charles was a World War Two veteran who was on the beaches at Normandy.

Charles pictured when he was 21-years-old.

"He was very well thought of and he was given the Legion d’Honneur for his actions."

Charles had made visits back to Normandy as he remembered his part in the conflict and paid his own respects to the fallen, as well as help pass on his recollections to those in the generations who followed.

"It was very important for us to give him a good send off and show our respects."

Charles leaves children Sandra and Brian, from his marriage to his first wife Irene, and his second wife Lyn, who he met through their shared love of photography after he was widowed.

Donations in lieu of flowers will be gifted to the Cinnamon Trust, the national charity for the elderly, the terminally ill and their pets.

The funeral procession of war hero and photographer Charles Eagles as it entered the grounds of Sunderland Crematorium.