Angus marine Ralph Hebden laid to rest in Liverpool
- Jason Roberts
A tragic Angus marine was yesterday laid to rest by his wife and the newborn daughter he never met.Ralph Hebden’s widow Sarah followed her husband’s coffin into Our Lady and St Nicholas Church in Liverpool, tearfully clutching their month-old baby Evie May.
Eight comrades from the 32-year-old serviceman’s 45 Commando unit in Arbroath looked on as she read an emotional poem written for the funeral service.
A burial ceremony was held at Allerton Cemetery, marking the final chapter in a missing person case that saw a three-week police search end in the discovery of a body on April 1.
In a cruel twist of fate, Mrs Hebden gave birth to the couple’s baby girl just 10 days after he disappeared.
Serving marines and veterans lined the church steps ahead of Wednesday’s service led by naval chaplain Father John Williams.
After the first hymn, Amazing Grace, a family eulogy was read aloud describing the marine as a “beautiful, gentle and caring little boy” during his formative years.
His family said he returned from his first training exercise “glowing with pride” and fellow marines described him as “a man of great physical strength, who was always willing to help others”.
The congregation heard how he grew up in the Toxteth area of Liverpool and loved getting the Mersey ferry as a child.
He was very protective of his sister Sylvia and enjoyed keeping pets, including exotic animals.
Mr Hebden became a security guard after leaving school and was a member of the Sea Scouts from the age of 14.
In later life he enjoyed long walks and would often set out up the coast with his father Richard.
On the morning he went missing he said he was going for a run through Arbroath’s Victoria Park and along the cliffs heading towards Montrose.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed Mr Hebden received a full military funeral with pallbearers, a band and flags at half-mast as a mark of respect.
Head of 45 group, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Tanner, said marines at the RM Condor base in the town were “deeply saddened” by the loss.
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