Alex McDougall died without any known family or friends. But that doesn't mean he was alone.
The veteran who had served his country for 30 years, survived countless shootings and starvation on limited rations, succumbed to dementia and cancer early this June. He was 77 years old.
He had been “married to his job,” and thus had never had a family of his own. He had no children or grandchildren to mourn him.
So the staff at Beeston Lodge Nursing Home, where McDougall spent his last days, appealed to the public, to anyone with any link to the armed forces, to come pay their final respects.
They just didn't want McDougall to go unmourned, his life uncelebrated.
But they didn't expect the response to be so overwhelming.
Keith Brown, who conducted the service, remarked:
“I expected to be here with four people, not 400.”
In fact, the number was much more: over 500 mourners, young and old, convened at the funeral service in Bramcote, Nottinghamshire, to honor a man they knew only by his most honorable reputation.
Hundreds pay their respects at the funeral of former soldier Alex McDougall pic.twitter.com/E0Y6ulEXrc— Sarah Teale (@SarahTeale) June 26, 2015
There was even a bagpiper to lead the hearse, as standard bearers lined the route.
They expected 4, they got 400+. Rest in peace Alex McDougall. pic.twitter.com/3N5juPGggV— Lynsey Sharp (@LynseySharp) June 26, 2015
For a man who joined the army at the young age of 21, after losing his parents to a car crash, it's hard to imagine a more suitable—or picturesque—send-off. Brown certainly thinks so:
“It is a remarkable show of affection for one soldier, so God bless you all for that.”
McDougall's ashes will be taken back to his native Glasgow, and scattered at Rangers Ibrox Stadium.
Wreath from Rangers Football Club, at funeral of Alex McDougall. pic.twitter.com/MnJbHokR9Y— Ibrox Loyal (@IL_Official) June 26, 2015
Banner image credit: Aisha Morrell