POW Brian Fortune’s ashes to be laid to rest
A WORLD War II veteran and prisoner of war who was farewelled by hundreds after dying alone in hospital will have his ashes laid to rest in an Ipswich cemetery.
Former British soldier Brian Fortune passed away in Ipswich Hospital in February with no next of kin or known family.
He had been living at the Bundaleer Lodge Nursing Home and was believed to be 95-years-old.
The hospital contacted the Ipswich RSL sub branch as Mr Fortune had a Department of Veterans' Affairs card and had spoken about his service.
Plans for a small gathering to send him off got out of hand as a social media post asking for interested parties went viral.
A service held at the Heritage Park Crematorium in Goodna in March was attended by hundreds.
His story made international headlines.
Sub branch secretary Debbie Wadwell said attention after the funeral turned to what would happen to Mr Fortune's ashes but they ran into a roadblock.
"We were waiting for his ashes to be ready to be picked up and we had been dealing with the Public Trustee in regards to his personal effects," she said.
"We decided we would go ahead and inter Mr Fortune's Ashes into the Warrill View cemetery.
"Although we know he has funds available, we had to wait for permission.
"The Public Trustee's office said we had to cease what we were doing because they need to do due diligence by trying to contact some family members."
Mrs Wadwell told them that the sub branch had already gone down that road with no luck.
"We mentioned they would be looking for a needle in a haystack … we'd done all this prior to the funeral," she said.
There were fears the money Mr Fortune had left was going to be soaked up in a fruitless search but the sub branch got confirmation on Tuesday that they could go ahead with the original plans.
"We're very, very happy," she said.
"We started from the beginning and we need to have closure. We need to be able to lay his ashes to rest.
"Our job is done."
Details on Mr Fortune's life are scarce but it is believed he was a former member of the 6th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry and he was registered as a British POW in Poland on September 3, 1940.
The finer details are being sorted through now but a plaque could be erected with the emblem of the Durham Light Infantry.
"He'll be well identified," Mrs Wadwell said.
Mrs Wadwell wanted to assure all veterans, even if they are not a member of the RSL, would be supported by the local sub branch.
"All veterans can know we provide this service and make sure it's completed," she said.
"We support them."
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor.