Tributes paid at funeral of Sunderland war veteran
Heartfelt tributes have been paid at the funeral of a Wearside serviceman following his death at the age of 94.
Silksworth-born Jack Watson was laid to rest at Sunderland Crematorium after he passed away on February 13.
The great-grandad, who joined the Shropshire Yeomanry in his teens and became a signaller during the Second World War, was given a guard of honour by veterans as his coffin was carried in for the service.
During his time in the Forces, Jack even earned a mention in despatches for his valour in the Battles of Monte Cassino in Italy, a country he grew to love and visited in his old age.
Celebrant Chris May told mourners: “Today is a celebration of the life Jack lived.
“A life he lived to the absolute fullest.”
Chris spoke of Jack’s devotion to his wife of more than 60 years Norma, who used to visit every day after she went into a care home in 2011 after she developed Alzheimer’s.
A grandad to Helen, Sarah, Jill, Michael and Jack, he would often take them on days out to Beamish, Eden Camp and Sunderland seafront to spend quality time together.
Helen told the service: “We have so many fond memories of our grandad.
“He wore the same musical tie every Christmas Day for 20 years and was ever the joker.
“These are precious times that will live on forever.”
Helen added: “He had a lot of wartime memories and I am sure they were hard for him to relive.
“But it was really important to him for us to know the hardships he and his fellow soldiers endured and that we should never forget their sacrifice.”
Jack was a regular fixture at Sunderland’s Remembrance Parade for several years and stayed active well into his 90s, even taking part in a sponsored parachute jump at the age of 91, raising more than £6,000 for ‘Action on Dementia Sunderland’, a charity he was a big supporter of.
Footage of the skydive was played at the service.
Demobbed in 1946, he returned to Sunderland and met wife-to-be Norma at a dance in the early 50s.
Jack and Norma bought their first home in 1955 and lived in Sunderland all their lives, welcoming children Peter in 1956 and Patricia, known as Pat, in 1960.
A tribute on behalf of Peter detailed the day his dad saw a boy at the same school as his son who had no-one to take him home.
After seeing the boy, Jack told to get in his car with Peter and the rest of his family so they could drop him off.
“After years had gone by, I came to understand that he was teaching me a very important lesson in life.
“He showed me that everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly.
“It is that, not his military achievements, that makes him a hero in my mind.”
Jack joined the Gas Board as a Clerk Collector in the 1970s and remained with the board until he retired in 1988.
During his retirement, he enjoyed gardening as well as researching his family tree back to the 1800s.
Following Norma’s death in 2016 Jack also sadly developed Alzheimer’s which, combined with ill health, meant he too went into a care home.
Family members visited every day, with Jack enjoying their visits immensely.
A poem was read out by Jack’s granddaughter Sarah before the Last Post was played.