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Farewell to the very bravest of the brave; Full military honours for Arnhem para.

Byline: By BARRY STOCKTON

A MERSEYSIDE veteran who was one of the heroes of the Battle of Arnhem has died.

Sergeant Bill Fulton was the first British paratrooper to set foot on Arnhem Bridge during the vital World War II battle.

The 88-year-old from Prenton, who died on January 15, will have his final wish granted when his ashes are scattered at Arnhem, Holland, following his funeral with full military honours on Monday.

The heroics on September 17, 1944, inspired the film A Bridge Too Far starring Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford and Laurence Olivier.

The Birkenhead-born paratrooper, who had already seen action in Italy, North Africa and at Dunkirk, was shot in the leg by a German sniper as he led an attack to capture the northern end of the bridge.

His daughter Maureen Stott said: "Dad was always very proud to have been involved with so many really brave colleagues. He was one of many men who contributed at Arnhem.

"Even though the assault was eventually unsuccessful, the Dutch people still show enormous gratitude to the soldiers who took part." Mr Fulton was an active member of the Liverpool branch of the Arnhem Veteran's Association and made the annual pilgrimage to the scene of the battle.

Mrs Stott said: "The whole family were so proud when people would approach dad in the streets, give him flowers, or ask for his autograph.

"As his sight began to fail he had pre-signed black and white photographs printed of him wearing his uniform, which he would hand out to the kids.

"He had a fabulous sense of humour and a real love of life. He didn't suffer fools, though. Mum has been overwhelmed by the warmth of the response. He was just a wonderful man."

Mr Fulton leaves behind Emily, his wife of almost 60 years, two children, six grandchildren and seven greatgrandchildren.

news@liverpoolecho.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

HERO: The funeral service for paratrooper Bill Fulton, the first serviceman to step on to Arnhem Bridge in the famous battle during World War II; CARNAGE: The bridge at Arnhem, left, and a scene from the May Blitz; WOUNDED: Bill
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 29, 2008
Words:359
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