MOURNERS gathered on the streets of Golcar to honour one of their own killed in Afghanistan.
Around 1,000 people lined the village streets yesterday afternoon as the coffin of Lance-Cpl Graham Shaw was brought to its final resting place at St John’s Church.
The 27-year-old Golcar man was killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand on February 1.
The mourners fell silent as the hearse made its way slowly down Church Street.
Lance-Cpl Shaw’s parents Karen and Russ followed behind in another funeral car while other family members followed on foot.
Standard-bearers from more than a dozen military groups, including the Huddersfield branch of the Royal British Legion, dipped their flags as a mark of respect as the hearse passed at 1.45pm.
The coffin, covered in a Union Flag and with Lance-Cpl Shaw’s cap on top, was taken into the church by six pall-bearers from the Yorkshire Regiment.
The funeral service began with the hymn Jerusalem before the soldier’s uncle Mick Dyson rose to pay tribute to his nephew.
The Lindley man drew laughter when recalling Graham’s birth.
Mr Dyson said: “He was born in the bathroom of his grandmother’s pub not many miles from here. So now you know why he had such an affinity with public houses.”
He recalled his nephew’s “cheeky grin and infectious laugh” and his love of sunbathing.
Mr Dyson added that Graham had wanted to follow in the footsteps of this father, who served in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards from 1976 to 1992.
Mr Dyson said: “Graham is gone from us in body but he will never be forgotten.
“Like many other brave soldiers, he sacrificed his life for his country.
“We’re always thinking of the many other families whose loved ones have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“He was our hero.”
The congregation then sang the hymn Bread of Heaven as hundreds more mourners listened to the service on loudspeakers outside.
Lance-Cpl Shaw’s commanding officer Lt Col Tom Vallings, of the 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment, then paid his tribute to the fallen soldier.
He said: “We remember him, not only as an outstanding soldier, but as one of the lads who would always put his friends first.
“He was happiest on operations or in the pub in his scruffy white trainers.”
Lt Col Vallings said that the Golcar man was “a natural soldier” who had joined the Army in 1999 and was promoted to Lance Corporal in 2004.
He served in Bosnia and Kosovo before beginning a six-month tour of Iraq in October 2004.
Lt Col Vallings said: “He volunteered to deploy forward during periods of heightened threat, exposing himself to great risk to protect British troops from terrorists.”
Lance-Cpl Shaw won a place in the Sniper Platoon and also worked as a medic and postman within the regiment.
Lt Col Vallings said: “He had a bright future ahead of him. His long-term goal was to command a platoon.”
On December 27, 2009 he deployed to Afghanistan attached to the Coldstream Guards as a battle casualty replacement.
Lt Col Vallings said: “He died serving his country, trying to make Afghanistan a better place.
“He was the personification of a Yorkshire soldier – proud, tough and honest.”
The Vicar of Golcar, Canon Martyn Crompton, then gave his tribute.
He said: “He knew the risks but was willing to face them. Today we remember a young man killed in his prime doing the job he loved.”
Canon Crompton said the death had shocked the village.
He said: “You could almost feel the grief at the roadside as his coffin arrived.
“Golcar is rightly proud of those who have died for their country.
“The names of the 153 men from this village who died in the First World War and the 41 who died in the Second World War are read out each Remembrance Day. Next November and in years to come, we will remember Graham too.”
Canon Crompton also paid tribute to Cpl Liam Riley, 21, from Sheffield, who died moments after Graham. He said: “He went to Graham’s aid, even though it cost him his life.”
Canon Crompton added: “Sometimes people say ‘where is God when this is happening?’
“I believe he was there when Graham and Liam died. He is here with us today.”
The congregation then said the Lord’s Prayer before singing the final hymn, Abide With Me.
Mourners both inside and outside the church applauded as the coffin was taken out to be buried in the graveyard in a private ceremony.
And in a final tribute, there was a volley of shots from colleagues from the Yorkshire Regiment.Related content