He was simply the best – tributes to Corporal Jake Hartley as he’s laid to rest at New Mill funeral
“HE was the best brother, he was the best son, he was the best friend and he was the best soldier.”
A moving tribute to Corporal Jake Hartley from his little brother, Ethan, 12, who led the tributes to the Afghanistan hero at his funeral at Christ Church, New Mill, yesterday.
Ethan’s words brought applause from the 1,000-strong congregation who packed the church and filled the churchyard to say goodbye to Cpl Hartley, who was one of six soldiers tragically killed in Afghanistan on March 6.
Family, friends, dignitaries and residents lined the streets for the 20-year-old from New Mill, described as a “future sergeant major” by his commanding officer.
The words ‘hero’, ‘bro’, and ‘Jake’ were made from flowers and Cpl Hartley’s coffin was decorated with the Union Flag.
He arrived at the New Mill church in style in a white horse-drawn carriage before six pallbearers carried him with full military honours into the church.
Following close behind was his mother Nathalie, step-father Mark Taylor, Ethan and Cpl Hartley’s closest friend and uncle, Luke Kemp, 20.
There were tears and laughter as friends and family paid tribute to him and shared anecdotes of fun times they’d had with Cpl Hartley.
Ethan recalled: “I remember when he won best recruit [in 2008] I thought that meant he was the best soldier, ever, and he was to me.”
He recalled their last phone conversation when Cpl Hartley called from Afghanistan: “I was trying to make him laugh and he did – that’s how I’ll remember him, just crazy and funny and laughing.”
During the service the song Angels, sang by Kelly Aitcheson, was played. Its poignant words “you are in the arms of the angels, may you find some comfort there” brought tears to the faces of mourners listening from outside the church.
Cpl Hartley’s uncle and friend Luke Kemp also paid tribute to him.
He said: “What can I tell you about Jake that you don’t already know?
“He was a cheeky chappie, he was my nephew but we were as close as brothers.