Published: 19:29, 02 September 2020
| Updated: 20:11, 02 September 2020
The funeral of a D-Day veteran described as a legend by his comrades took place in Maidstone this afternoon.
John Hutton, known to his friends as Jock, served in the 13th Lancashire Parachute Battalion during the Second World War.
Watch: The funeral of D-Day veteran Jock Hutton
The Ministry of Defence announced Mr Hutton, who lived in the county town, died last month, aged 96, and that his courage and spirit must “must never be forgotten”.
A guard of honour was waiting as the hearse entered Vinters Park Crematorium on Bearsted Road to the sound of bagpipes.
While the service was reserved for family, Mr Hutton's friends stayed to tell stories from his past.
Geoff Butler, 66, originally from Chatham, met Mr Hutton at several air force functions over the years but it was actually at a supermarket in Larkfield where their friendship started.
Mr Butler said: "I went to get some milk from Tesco and because he saw the badge on my jumper he came up to me and said hello.
"He is a very well known man so I already knew who he was and we met again several times over the years and have been friends ever since and that was about eight years ago.
"You can actually see how much people loved him by the turn out here today.
"He was one hell of a character who will be sadly missed."
After the Second World War, Mr Hutton served in Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt and Java before arriving in Rhodesia, now Zimbabe. He served as a regimental sergeant major in Rhodesia Squadron SAS.
David Roberts 66, chairman for The Rhodesian Light Infantry Association for Europe and America, knew Mr Hutton and paid his respects this afternoon.
He said: "Jock was a legend who will go down in history."
In 1944, Mr Hutton parachuted into Normandy and descended to the famous Pegasus Bridge on D-Day.
To mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Scotsman replicated his descent in June last year when he parachuted into Sannerville alongside fellow ex-serviceman Harry Read.
That was the third time Mr Hutton marked the anniversary in such a way, having also parchuted into France on the 65th and 70th.
Ian Marshall from the Pathfinder International Parachute Group also accompanied Mr Hutton on commemorative jumps over the years.
The 66-year-old trained Mr Hutton when he returned to jumping in his 80s.
He said: "He came to us in 2011 and wanted to jump back in Arnham. We trained him up, but he was already a very experienced parachute jumper from before.
"He passed all the training and the boss at the national parachute centre came up to me and said 'he can't jump he's too old!' He went in to talk to Jock and once he found out his history he let him jump.
"He jumped into some pretty nasty places in Rhodesia, he was an amazing man and, a legend."
Charles Evans, 52, travelled from north London especially to remember Mr Hutton, who he met while serving in South Africa.
Mr Evans said: "I am Rhodesian born and he served with the SAS out there. He and I got along quite well because he always felt a little overwhelmed by the attention he got.
"His proudest moments were becoming the regimental sergeant major of the Rhodesian SAS. It was in Rhodesia he really found his place and what he achieved was truly incredible.
Watch: People pay their respects at the funeral of D-Day veteran Jock Hutton
"Jock would typically come over as a guest of honor at commemorative jumps because he was one of the last senior surviving paratroopers from those days.
"He wasn't there in his capacity as the regimental sergeant major of the SAS but that was his crown and glory, that achievement can be piped by very few soldiers ever.
"He was a stereotypical Scott with dry humour that if you weren't listening carefully you would think he was hadn't quite got what you said but the cheeky look on his face meant he knew exactly what he was saying.
"He kept a huge amount to himself, he had courtesy and manors. If he could see us all here today he would say 'what they hell are you all doing standing here! have you run out of beer?'
"I'm enormously disappointed I didn't get to see him before he passed because he asked me to come and see him and speak about his tie in Rhodesia but :I never did so I'll never know. It's a shame. you get caught up in life."