Hundreds turned out for the funeral of a hero war veteran who was shot in the arm by a dead German during the Second World War.
Raymond Rayner – known to friends as ‘Tich’ – passed away in Stoke Mandeville Hospital on April 2 aged 95 following a short illness.
“When he was in the hospital, he took off his oxygen mask, told his daughter: ‘I just dreamt I was marching across Pegasus Bridge’, then he died soon after.Eric Kester
In a previous interview with The Bucks Herald in 2007, Mr Rayner had described how a German soldier inadvertently pulled the trigger on his gun after he himself was shot dead – catching Mr Rayner in the arm.
He carried on for six hours before he finally had his wound dressed.
More than 250 people gathered at St Mary’s Church in Aylesbury to celebrate his extraordinary life on Friday.
Mr Rayner was born and bred in Aylesbury, lived in Bicester and Tring Road, and was a pupil at Queens Park School.
In 1935, aged 16, he joined the Territorial Army as a boy soldier before he was called up on the outbreak of war in 1939.
Mr Rayner was a Lance Sergeant and one of Major John Howard’s 181-strong company of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
He landed as part of the Coup-de-Main operation – a tactic designed to stun and surprise the enemy – and their mission was to seize the strategically vital Pegasus Bridge, named after the winged horse symbol of the 6th Airborne Division, across the Caen Canal.
The plan was to secure an area for British and Canadian forces to protect against any German counter strike – and they did it.
Mr Rayner was very loyal to his colleagues and dutifully returned to France each year to Pegasus Bridge to lay a single red rose on the grave of his fallen comrade and friend, Sgt Pete Barwick.
Eric Kester, who first met Mr Rayner through the Royal British Legion, said: “I knew Tich for 47 years and he was very well known around town.
“When he was in the hospital, he took off his oxygen mask, told his daughter: ‘I just dreamt I was marching across Pegasus Bridge’, then he died soon after.
“Now he will march on that bridge forever more. He was a gentleman to the last.”