On Thursday 24th November 2016, a funeral of an ex-serviceman took place in Bedfordshire. Rodney ‘Rod’ Francis was an ex-CPO Submariner; he died aged 74, on the 24th October. Estranged from his wife and son, it was feared that his funeral would be a very quiet and lonely one. However, with a call round to members of the local Royal British Legion and Royal Naval Association Branches, the word soon got out.
Shipmate Penny Jarvis, Standard Bearer for Letchworth Branch, was instrumental in calling local and Area Branches to rally up support, and on the day of the funeral, almost 100 locals, ex-service personnel form the RN and RBL attended the service at Norse Road Crematorium.
Rod joined the Royal Navy in 1959 and retired in 1984. Robby Evans, a civil celebrant, spoke of Rod’s career, he said that ‘his was an often dangerous, claustrophobic and hard life, with many very long periods of time deployed under the sea, away from any hint of home, hearth, friends or family. But it was also a vital one, ensuring the protection of Britain and her allies from nuclear attack through 25 years of great instability and world tension.’
During the service, Brian Stonebridge (a current serving RN officer), read Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar; this was followed by the Last Post and a final farewell with Olivia Newton John’s ‘Take me Home, Country Roads’ as Rod was known to be a big Country and Western fan.
Further details and photographs can be viewed in the online article by Bedfordshire OnSunday website at: http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/crowds-flock-to-funeral-of-ex-navy-submariner-who-passed-with-no-local-family/story-29931176-detail/story.html
Rest in Peace shipmate.