Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Simon, You'll Never Be Forgotten

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Simon, You'll Never Be Forgotten

Article excerpt

Byline: By Rajeshree Sisodia

Some stood with heads bowed, while others silently wiped away tears - but all were united in their grief at the funeral of North military police officer Corporal Simon Miller.

More than 600 mourners yesterday gathered at Holy Trinity Church, in Washington, to remember 21-year-old Cpl Miller, who was killed in action in southern Iraq last month.

Cpl Miller, from Washington, was serving with 156 Provost Company, in the Royal Military Police (RMP), when he died.

Yesterday, as the clock inched towards 2pm, mourners lined the route to Holy Trinity Church, - the 19th-century church where two decades years earlier, Cpl Miller was baptised and from where he would now make his final journey in a funeral with full military honours.

On the road leading to the church, mourners of all ages, housewives, children and RMP veterans stood, waiting to pay tribute to the young man who - along with five other soldiers - lost his life on June 24, after an attack on a civilian police station in Iraq.

A hush fell over the mourners as the four-car funeral cortege - led by two police officers on motorbikes - weaved its way through the streets.

The only sound was the chiming of the church bell, until the silence was broken by piper Sergeant Arthur Middleton, from the 102 Battalion REME, based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, as he piped `Dark Island' and six uniformed RMP officers carried Cpl Miller on his final journey.

The soldiers stood sombre but proud as they carried the coffin, draped in a Union flag and carrying Cpl Miller's bayonet, red RMP cap and white belt, into the church where hundreds stood waiting.

Cpl Miller's distraught mother, Marilyn, a tiny figure dressed in a black trouser suit, had to be led into the service by his father, John, while their other son, 24-year-old Lance Corporal Jon Miller, also serving with the RMP, accompanied Simon Miller's fiancee, Emma Morris, into the church.

As the aisles inside Holy Trinity filled, mourners had to stand outside on the steps, kept company by wreaths of flowers placed in memory of the dead soldier, affectionately known as `Si' to his friends and family.

Inside the church, Lance Cpl Miller remembered his younger brother's appetite for life and the night they both got drunk together on Christmas Eve 2001.

He said: "As you can imagine, the drinking games started and the time passed by and before we knew it, only myself and Si were left in the pub.

"As we got outside, being as drunk as we were, we decided to run home naked. So with nothing on, wearing our boxer shorts on our heads, with our clothes under our arms, we made the half-mile dash home."

He added: "I know that my parents and Simon's fiancee, Emma, would have loved to say so much today, but feel it would be too difficult a task on this occasion, but they did want to say they are in awe of Si and were so proud and privileged to be part of his life. …

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