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200 strangers attend British Marine's funeral after Facebook plea

Reverend Bob Mason's Facebook plea attracted 200 mourners to the funeral of late Royal Marine James McConnell on Thursday.
Reverend Bob Mason's Facebook plea attracted 200 mourners to the funeral of late Royal Marine James McConnell on Thursday.Ben Mitchell / Press Association via AP

LONDON -- More than 200 strangers attended a British veteran's funeral after a clergyman put out a plea on Facebook, fearing he would be buried without mourners, according to reports.

James McConnell, who served with the U.K.'s Royal Marines, died last month aged 70.

Staff at his nursing home in Southsea, Hampshire, thought they would be the only people at his funeral as he did not have any close family, ITV News reported.

The Rev. Bob Mason, posted a message on Facebook and contacted the Royal Marines Association.

The message, which was shared and reposted by members of the association and thousands of other Facebook users, said:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, In this day and age it is tragic enough that anyone has to leave this world with no one to mourn their passing, but this man was family and I am sure you will agree deserves a better send off. If you can make it to the graveside for that time to pay your respects to a former brother in arms then please try to be there."

A motorcycle procession at the funeral of Royal Marine James McConnell.Ben Mitchell / Press Association via AP

Hundreds responded to the message, braving the freezing temperatures to attend Thursday’s ceremony at Milton Cemetery in nearby Portsmouth.

'Dignified burial'

Mason, who conducted Thursday’s funeral, told local newspaper, The News: “I want to say a big thank you to all of those who turned up.

“Many people had concerns about him being buried with no family present but now they have seen him have a dignified burial.”

Among those attending was Arthur Bailey, 88, who was a soldier who served in several conflicts.

"I heard about it and just wanted to come along," he told The News. "This is what the armed forces family is for. It’s a credit to everyone who turned up."


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