Appeal for mourners at veteran’s funeral

A PLEA for mourners has been launched amid fears no-one will attend a veteran’s funeral.

Thomas Musgrove has no known friends or relatives. Picture: comp

Thomas Musgrove, who served in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, died on December 1 at Gilmerton Care Home with no known friends or relatives.

But Captain Pat Thompson, deputy chairman of the RFA Association, is keen that the 67-year-old doesn’t go to his grave “unmarked” and has made an appeal urging people to attend tomorrow’s service.

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He said: “It would be such a tragedy if his passing went unmarked. His case only came to the attention of the Association through social services on Thursday. By the time it percolated down to me it was Friday, and given that the clock is seriously ticking, I doubt that many people will turn up. It could just be the celebrant, the social workers and the pall-bearers.

“We have put out an appeal on social media but so far I have had no response. There are so many instances of veterans going to their graves without anybody pitching up on the day. We are desperately hoping to get somebody to come.”

He added: “We are going to try to get an RFA ensign draped on the coffin to give the service some gravitas and dignity.”

Joni Wilson, an independent life celebrant, will be conducting the tomorrow’s service at Mortonhall Crematorium’s Pentland Chapel from 1.30pm.

She said: “I would not even have known he was a veteran if a member of the council’s staff had not contacted Captain Thompson, so I am very grateful to both of them and do hope their efforts might bring a few people along to the funeral.”

Mr Musgrove, who had lived at Gilmerton Care Home since 2010, was described by staff as a “very private man who spoke little about himself”.

Born on March 6, 1948 to Walter and Sarah, he had two brothers, Robert and Ian, and three sisters – Betty, Francis and Moira, who all died before him. The family moved several times but always stayed in the Broughton and Abbeyhill areas.

At 16, Mr Musgrove joined the Merchant Navy, where he served for 18 years, travelling as far afield as the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.

He was also part of the RFA, whose ships were vital in servicing the main fleet on its many duties around the world.

A copy of his discharge papers show that he usually served as a firefighter and had been on several vessels during the 1970s including the Oriana, the Olna, the Cherryleaf and the Tidepool. Mr Thompson said: “He probably would have kept watches down below and would have been part of the team that ran the main engines. It would have involved keeping the engineer room clean, dealing with maintenance issues and looking after the generators.”