Friends plan fitting farewell for Warwickshire war hero
The funeral for a 95-year-old war hero, who was well-known in Leamington and Warwick, is being organised by his Army friends after no family members could be found.
People who knew Bryan Johnson BEM are now being encouraged to come along to his funeral to say farewell to the man who helped create Warwick’s Yeomanry Museum and led the town’s Remembrance Sunday parade for 43 years.
Mr Johnson died on March 14. His wife and son are also deceased.
For his many years of faithful service to Warwick, Mr Johnson is to be made a posthumous Honorary Freeman of Warwick on May 24.
Trustees at the yeomanry museum have been trying to track down members of Mr Johnson’s family but have been unable to find anyone.
A funeral has now been organised by the museum trustees and Mr Johnson’s Army friends.
A spokesperson for the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum said: “There being no close next of kin - his funeral is being organised by the Bereavement Services of SWH Trust through John Taylor Funeral Services, in conjunction with friends closely associated with the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum and the Queen’s Own Warwickshire and Worcestershire Yeomanry Comrades Association (QOWWY).
“It is anticipated that many of his Army friends and others will be present.
“Those wishing to attend are welcome to do so - there will be no wake.
“The Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum will be open from 11am onwards on 26th May, for those wishing to gather afterwards. For any further information please contact 07889 825440.”
Bryan Walker Johnson was born in Kings Norton in Birmingham to Arthur and Emily Johnson (nee Walker) in December 1921.
He lived in Leamington since the 1950s and joined the Army in 1941 as part of the Royal Armed Corps.
He then went on to serve in the 5th Royal Tank Regiment and took part in the landing on the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
During his service Mr Johnson was the commander of the first tank which went into the town of Bethune in France, which signified the start of the liberation.
After returning from the Second World War he joined the Warwickshire Yeomanry, which in 1956 became the Queen’s Own Warwickshire and Worcestershire Yeomanry.
Mr Johnson went on to help create the yeomanry museum in Warwick, which is housed in the basement of the Court House in Warwick.
He ran the museum on his own as the curator for 30 years.
The war veteran was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1980 as part of the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List that year.
For his bravery and service in the Army Mr Johnson was also presented with the Légion d’honneur medal from the French Government and over the years he was the principal guest at Bethune when the town celebrates their liberation.
The veteran’s bravery was brought to the attention of the Warwick branch of the Royal British Legion by Warwick Town Council through the yeomanry museum last year.
On Remembrance Sunday, November 13 2016, Mr Johnson was presented with a special Somme 1916 Poppy Lapel Pin in appreciation for his services and dedication to his country and to Warwick.
After being the Remembrance Sunday parade marshal for 43 years, he decided to hand the baton of Parade Marshall on last year.
Bryan Johnson’s funeral will take place on Friday May 26 at 9am at St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Lillington.