War veteran’s cremation reveals extent of bravery

The cremated remains of a recently deceased war veteran revealed he had been carrying 6oz of shrapnel in his body for the past 66 years.

Relatives of Ronald Brown, who served in the East Yorkshire regiment, were stunned as staff handed them a bag of shrapnel following his cremation.

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Mr Brown had been on a mission in France in August 1944 when he stepped on a landmine, which blasted his left leg with fragments and forced him to crawl two miles to safety. After surviving the war, Mr Brown only ever told loved ones a basic story, stating that he had a ‘bullet’ in his leg and requested that his grandchildren didn’t sit on his knee because of the pain it caused.

His daughter Jane Madden remarked: “I don’t think he ever realised all that was in his leg – it weighed about six ounces.

“He’d said there was a bullet in his leg but I was imagining one romantic piece of metal.

“When we went to scatter his ashes we asked whether the bullet had been found and they gave us this bag full of metal.

“It’s just macabre really, and amazing, because he never used to complain about the pain. It just shows how brave he was.”

Following his death from a chest infection at the age of 94, workers at the Exeter and Devon Crematorium sifted through his ashes and found the pieces of metal that had been inside Mr Brown for the best part of 70 years.

Mr Brown’s granddaughter Holly remarked: “He would travel overseas to Australia and America and he was always setting off scanners as he walked through.

“We always thought it was a bullet in the knee but when the funeral directors gave us this bag of shrapnel they had taken out we were shocked at how much there was.

“We are all very proud of him and what he did for all of us. The bits of metal in him just show how horrible the war was.

“I suppose it’s a bitter-sweet memory for us because it symbolises everything he did and how he suffered.”

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