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Farewell to George, the man the Germans couldn't sink

Birmingham war hero George Dexter was laid to rest with military honours last Friday.

War vet George Dexter to receive full military funeral

Birmingham war hero George Dexter – the man the Germans couldn’t sink – was laid to rest with military honours last Friday.

The 97-year-old miraculously survived after both his ship and the rescue vessel that saved him went down in the Mediterranean in April 1941.

George, from Hodge Hill, was the last survivor of the raids, which claimed 843 lives – although his relatives were told he was missing in action.

He succumbed to cancer earlier this month and received a fitting send-off at Yardley Crematorium.

Standard-bearers from a range of service associations greeted his coffin, which was covered in the Union flag.

And a tribute made of poppies was also presented in his memory and the Last Post was played as the service ended.

Among the mourners was the Dutch son of a captain who served aboard one of the doomed vessels.

George’s nephew, Andrew Barrett, said: “He would have loved the service.

“George was a real joker – it was always a laugh to go and see him.

“The Second World War was a huge adventure for young men at that time.

 

“But they didn’t understand the scale of what was going on.

“It was pretty heavy on the family as they received a telegram saying he was missing in action.

“His house was full of war memorabilia.”

Widower George, who died at John Taylor Hospice in Erdington, was serving with the 308 Company of the Royal Army Service Corps when placed on the ill-fated Dutch ship SS Slamat.

He escaped with his life in the Luftwaffe attack and was picked up by the ship HMS Wryneck, sent to rescue survivors. But it too was hit by the Germans.

A third ship, HMS Diamond, was also attacked.

Andrew added: “George was a lucky man to survive once, let alone twice.

“Recalling the events of the day was quite a horror for him.”

Frans Luidinga got to know George after spotting a Birmingham Mail report of his exploits.

The 79-year-old’s father was Captain Tjalling Luindinga, of SS Slamat. He said: “The daughter of the surgeon aboard the Slamat saw a Mail article online about George.

“He was aboard my father’s ship and was saved by the HMS Wryneck, which was bombed a few hours later. We know from witnesses that my father died on the HMS Diamond.

“Mentally George was very good, no post-traumatic stress.

“He was cheerful and invited me to join the British Legion.”

 

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