It was standing room only at the funeral of William Dunsmore in Cardonald this morning, a Royal Artillery veteran who passed away aged 80. 

A crowd in the hundreds gathered to pay respect to Willie, who had no relatives and few friends save his housing officer and social worker. 

As Willie’s hearse drew up to be greeted by an honour guard of Royal Navy marines, Royal Artillery officers, Artillery Bikers, signallers and paratroopers, a bagpiper who had volunteered to play for the day came up behind. 

The crowd was a sea of uniform mixed with casually-clothed workers who had taken time out of their day to pay their respect to Willie. 

William ‘Willie’ Dunsmore was born in Glasgow in 1939 and spent four years in the royal artillery with the army between 1956-1960, where he fostered a love for Cyprus. 

Outwith his service, Willie moved to Cardonald and then Pollok and worked as a motor mechanic. 

Although he was survived by no family, he was not alone in life: he met the love of his life Jessie at the dancing. Willie was said to ‘dote’ on Jessie, and indeed ‘lived for her’ and was devastated when she died suddenly at only 59. 

Willie made an impact on everyone that he met for his cheeky sense of humour and strong Glasgow character. He was a clever and articulate man, and fostered a strong bond with his social worker, Frances, who was his ‘sweetheart’. 

Gatherers were told with a giggle that he was ‘ay’ trying to winch her’ but that unfortunately for Willie, was never quite successful. 

He loved true crime magazines, Irn-Bru and cream soda as well as a can of Tennent’s, or some Sweetheart Stout, and said that his favourite meal was a Mr Tasty Fish Supper. In testament to his quirky character, Willie collected steam cleaners – amassing hundreds yet never turning them on! 

Davy Thom, a fellow veteran adorned with badges and medals, said that Willie would have ‘dropped dead if he woke up and saw all this lot!’

After SAAFA Glasgow put out a call on social media for people to attend, the response was huge. 

Brian ‘Shuggy’ Robertson, Chairman of the RAA Association Glasgow Branch, said that he was informed by a friend from Birmingham. 

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‘I managed to get time off and came down this morning. There are loads of different people – navy guys, marines, signallers. It’s amazing. What a send off.’ 

Natalie Cutler, of the Armed Forces Covenant, travelled with fellow veterans from Edinburgh to say goodbye. 

“He was in the Royal Artillery” said Sandy Paton of the RA Veterans. “We’re here because he’s family.” 

Willie was sent off in true RA tradition – his coffin was draped in the Royal Artillery flag, and his hat sat on top. His character came through as the congregation left along to Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’. 

“We brought our RA standard colour and they passed that to the artillery branches in Scotland” said Dougie Crabbe. “The armed forces are a family. They all served and that was the important thing.”

“Once a gunner, always a gunner” said JT ‘Jimmy’ Burns. 

Willie’s funeral was awash with offers from volunteers who wanted to take part. 

Piper Alan Dalzell volunteered to play the bagpipes as Willie’s service was beginning.  

“I’m not a veteran myself, but my grandfather served for the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. I had the day off and by luck it all aligned for me to make the effort to come and play today and give William a good send off. It was really nice to be a part of it all.”

Terry Rooney, an RLC Reserve, volunteered as a pall bearer a mere 10 minutes before the service began. 

“I’m a veteran myself. I was a reserve for about 10 years. I felt it was a good contribution to give something back.”

“I thought it was a fantastic service – there must have been about 200 people there.”

“Even as I was carrying the gentleman in, I felt a lump in my throat. Just for a split second. I think it was a wee bit of nerves, but mostly the privilege of doing it for him”. 

“It was definitely a privilege to be a part of something so special. All round Glasgow they say, ‘People Make Glasgow’. It’s true and days like today prove that – people do make Glasgow.”