Almost 1,000 residents, military personnel, comrades, friends and family attended the funeral of a Pulborough soldier.
People lined London Road in Pulborough on Tuesday (November 5) to watch the procession for Lance Corporal James Brynin, 22, as it approached St Mary’s Church.
The County Times was invited to cover the funeral by the family.
Greeted by a troop of 30 men carrying tall flags embroidered with the Royal British Legion, James’ casket, cloaked in the Union Flag, was carried into the church, followed closely by his grieving family.
The former Steyning Grammar School student played for Horsham Football Club’s youth team and worked at Billingshurst Leisure Centre. His family live in Pulborough.
Killed in action when his section became the target of enemy fire in Afghanistan on October 15, James is the first soldier in the village to have lost his life since 1948.
Elton John’s ‘Circle of Life’ could be heard echoing into the churchyard as the casket was taken down the aisle.
Around 600 people, along with 350 military personnel packed out the church, many of whom had to stand.
Led by Father Paul Welch, the family and James’ military comrades made heart-felt tributes to ‘Jay’, as he was fondly known.
Also in attendance was the soldier’s Golden Retriever who had been his companion since childhood.
Many residents including members of Pulborough Parish Council remained outside during the service and waited for the casket to re-emerge from the church.
To AC/DC’s heavy metal track ‘Thunderstruck’, the guests exited St Mary’s to watch the troops fire three volleys of shots into the air in honour of the fallen soldier.
Standard Bearer, Tony Murphy, performed the ‘rolling dip’ with his comrades, a tradition where flags are lowered as an act of homage.
“I heard that James was a fan of the Brighton Seagulls football team. I’m also a massive fan with a season ticket, so with the family’s permission I placed a Seagulls scarf on the altar.”
Hours before his death, James had received a Seagulls flag signed by the entire team.
In the procession, behind the police escort, a few members of the Sussex Riders showed their support.
The ex-servicemen rode their motorbikes one of which was adorned with poppies, with a flag attached that read ‘Lest we forget’.
The fundraising bikers support the Royal British Legion by organising events to raise awareness for the Poppy Appeal.
Sussex Riders County Representative and Pulborough resident, Martin Johnson, said: “It’s an emotional occasion, but it’s important for us and the family. We feel it’s our duty and people need that comfort.”
Sussex Riders deputy county representative, Mike Alderson from Cowfold, said: “It’s a great mark of respect that the people here are supporting the jobs of the service men - clapping and crying in the street. It’s humbling.”
As the procession slowly made its way back onto London Road, a crowd of almost 1,000 people erupted into applause.
In the early hours of October 15, troops were deployed into the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province where Lance Corporal Brynin received a fatal gunshot wound.
The service was organised by Ian Hart Funeral Service based in Worthing.
Donations in James’ memory can be made at www.memorygiving.com/lcpljamesjayleebrynin, or a cheque payable to Hounds For Heroes.