A Dunkirk war veteran who went on to become a Cornish brass band legend has died just eight months after he turned 100 years old to huge fanfare.

Despite Covid lockdown regulations last June, the community of Helston gave Eric Taylor the birthday he deserved, complete with a surprise flypast of Hawk jets, HMS Seahawk Band playing him Happy Birthday and more than 200 cards and 250 emails received from all over the world, together with day of socially distanced chats and waves across the garden of his Church Hill home.

It is these memories that his family say they are so pleased to have of him, and that they are so grateful that he got to experience before his passing at the weekend.

Eric's son Bruce told the Packet: "Although it's a very sad time for us, we're also so grateful for the remarkable life he has had.

"How can you be anything other?

"We have to be thankful for the legend that he was."


He said that in the last six months his father's health had started to go down hill, but his fighting spirit remained to the end, even seeing him battle off Covid five weeks ago.

Bruce said his father was also lucky to be able to be in a position to enjoy life for so long, remaining mentally and largely physically active.

A funeral for Eric will take place on Friday, March 5 at 2.30pm in St Keverne Church.

Eric with son Bruce and daughter Theresa. Picture: Kathy White

Eric with son Bruce and daughter Theresa. Picture: Kathy White

Although current lockdown rules mean numbers are strictly limited, it is hoped people will be able to stand outside their houses to pay their respects as Eric leaves Church Hill for the final time and drives through Helston and on to St Keverne. Details on timings will be announced by Pendles in due course.

Eric is something of a St Keverne Brass Band legend, playing the B-flat bass from 1950 onwards and in more recent years conducing the training band, teaching hundreds of children over the years and only giving it up in the last four or five years.

Before that he had a dramatic war career as, aged just 19, he was captured in France with the Royal Norfolk Regiment, while defending the get-away at Dunkirk.

Eric in 1945

Eric in 1945

His regiment became detached from those evacuated at Dunkirk and joined the Scottish 51st Highland Division and as they were pushed back to the coast at St Valery en Caux.

A week after Dunkirk the French forces surrendered and the remaining forces were captured and became prisoners of war.

He was then marched to Poland and five years as a German prisoner of war, before being marched back in 1945 when America released them from the German army.

Eric was later awarded the British Empire Medal for his services and featured in the Channel 4 documentary Dunkirk – The Forgotten Heroes, which was recently shown again on TV with the 80th anniversary of Dunkirk.