'We'll do him proud' - death of heroic Ipswich D-Day soldier to be marked by military funeral
A military funeral full of pageantry is to be held to give a fitting send-off to one of Suffolk's most highly regarded war veterans.
Tony Booth was one of the first recipients of France's Legion d'Honneur medal for the heroic role he played as a tank driver during the 1944 Normandy landings in the Second World War, dragging a couple of comrades to safety when their vehicle was blown up.
He also went on to play a leading role in the Royal British Legion (RBL), serving as chairman of the Chantry branch and later president of the Ipswich branch - championing the contributions of servicemen past and present.
The former principal education welfare officer for Suffolk County Council was described by friends as "a man who put duty before self" following his death aged 97 on October 10.
And now, to say thank you for his lifetime of service, the RBL is preparing a military funeral at All Saints Church in Sproughton at 1pm on Friday, November 15.
Veterans will form a guard of honour as the coffin enters the church, with the Last Post poignantly to be played during the service before a private family burial.
Tony Booth's son Ian Booth said: "He would be over the moon and very proud. Hopefully we'll do him proud, with the amount of effort going into it to make it right for my dad.
"It's been very touching to receive the tributes we have - not just from the Royal British Legion but the people who remember him from work.
"There have been lots of nice cards and lots of nice comments on Facebook. We've been really touched.
"He came from a military background and he was a formidable character. He was straightforward in his talking and how he looked at life.
"He loved his life - he lost a lot of friends and comrades in the war, and he was conscious he was one of the lucky ones.
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"He was always dressed very smartly, in a shirt, tie and blazer. He was a very proud man.
"It is difficult to understand what they had to go through. He was a very brave man."
Tony Booth was a member of the 49th Royal Tank Regiment during the Second World War also served as chairman of the Normandy Veterans' Association in Colchester.
He had entered the British Army in 1938 at the age of 16 and served for 30 years.
On D-Day, he landed at Gold Beach at 6.30am in one of the first tanks to go up the beach on D-Day. He went on to fight through to Belgium, France and eventually Germany.
He also served in the Far East and Hong Kong, leaving the military as a Captain Quartermaster Technical.
Tony Booth then came to Ipswich at the age of 49 in 1971, after marrying Gwen who he met in the Lake District.
Rob Vickery, chairman of the Ipswich RBL branch, said: "Tony was a real stickler for getting things right and he said before he died that he wanted a military-type funeral, so we're laying that on from the legion.
"He was the sort of man who would get stuck in and do his duty. He was a man who put duty before self. He put his duty as a tank driver before his personal safety.
"There was no nonsense with Tony - he had a job to do and would get on with it.
"He never boasted about what he did. He was a strong supporter of the Poppy Appeal and he worked very hard for that for a large number of years, As a branch, we miss him."
Tony Booth leaves behind two children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.