VILLAGERS gathered to celebrate the life of a beloved Birdham resident last Friday (April 11).
Maurice Garlick, 101, died on March 25, and his funeral was on Friday at St James Church in Birdham.
Friends and family gathered to remember him, including his wife Beryl, who he married in 1947.
The pair had made an impact on the village since they moved there 20 years ago, and the former-RAF man had some interesting stories to tell.
Just a year-and-a-half ago, a Lancaster plane flew over the cricket club ground in Birdham to mark the Battle of Britain.
But it also marked Mr Garlick’s 100th birthday, which was one week later on September 22, 2012.
His neighbours Ian and Marianne Strong, explained why the flight was a fitting tribute.
“Flight lieutenant Maurice Garlick was a navigator on Lancasters during the second world war who, on May 2, 1944, parachuted out of his burning plane over France,” said Mrs Strong.
“He survived in spite of landing on some high-tension wires causing burns and partial paralysis and spent two weeks hobbling and crawling through the wooded area until he linked up with the French Resistance, subsequently being flown back to England on September 6, 1944.
“The fly-past was certainly a fitting tribute to a brave and resourceful airman who deservedly was awarded the MBE in December 1946.”
In his life he had also been in the fire service, a teacher, a keen gardener and was a regular contributor to the parish magazine.
He wrote prolifically and his wife said he always had a book and a pen in his hand.
Drawing on his experiences from the war, he wrote a book, The Mystery of Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe was a postman in France who kept him safe from the Germans.
He was described by friends as ‘a man of courage and faith’ who ‘gave insight to a long life lived to the full’.