| 12°C Belfast

Larger than life: Tributes paid after death of Omagh war veteran at age of 103


Omagh war hero Bob Lingwood made a daring escape from the Nazis after being captured during the Second World War

Omagh war hero Bob Lingwood made a daring escape from the Nazis after being captured during the Second World War

Omagh war hero Bob Lingwood made a daring escape from the Nazis after being captured during the Second World War

Tributes have been paid to an Omagh war veteran who has passed away at the age of 103.

Bob Lingwood has been described as a “larger than life character” who was devoted to the community where he lived after he moved to Northern Ireland 50 years ago.

Mr Lingwood, who was born just weeks before the end of the First World War, served with the Royal Signals during the Second World War and, in 2018 at the age of 100, received an MBE for his charity work in the community.

He had been involved in groups such as the Omagh Access Forum, Probus and Shopmobility, mostly helping people with disabilities.

He was also the owner of the former Omagh Shoe Factory on the Mountjoy Road.

His commitment to the community was also recognised in 2012 when he was asked to carry the Olympic Torch through Omagh on its way to the London games.

Errol Thompson, Fermanagh and Omagh District DUP councillor, said: “He was very much a community man, he was very helpful, he wanted to help people in any way he could.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

“He was a great employer in the town as well and was well-known and well-respected across the whole community.

“It’s a sad loss, just two weeks ago, he was taking part in a Zoom meeting, so he was still involved in the community as recently as that.

“He had a lot of stories to tell and as an ex-serviceman myself, I had the utmost respect for him.

“I remember walking beside him as he carried the Olympic torch and it started to rain, so I offered him to walk under my umbrella and he declined as he said he was a former soldier and he’d come prepared with a full waterproof under his tracksuit.”

In March 2020, Mr Lingwood spoke to the Belfast Telegraph to make an impassioned rallying call to people in Northern Ireland to stand together to beat the disease.

Mr Lingwood, who described the virus as a more frightening enemy than Hitler, said: "With the help of God, we will come all through this."

He continued: "We can overcome the disease. Human nature is a wonderful thing and if we all work together and put aside our differences, particularly in Parliament and in the Assembly, we can win the day.

"Every morning when I wake up, I say to myself, 'That's another day nearer the end of the coronavirus'.

"That day will dawn. People are strong and when push comes to shove, we all do support each other in the main."

Mr Lingwood, who was captured in Belgium but managed to escape under fire from his Nazi captors, said: "I went through World War Two and I don't think I was ever frightened, but this is scary.”

Bizarrely, he was held for four days by the British after he reached their lines because they thought he was a German spy and his detention made him one of the few soldiers ever to be arrested by both sides of the war on the same day.

Later on, Mr Lingwood was injured as he tried to clamber on board a boat at Dunkirk, but he recovered and in recognition of his wartime efforts, he was presented with the Military Medal by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

Shortly afterwards, he was sent to serve in Northern Ireland, where in Lisburn he met his future wife, Emma, whom he married two years later.

Mr Lingwood is survived by his daughter, Denise, and predeceased by Emma and son, Michael.

His funeral Mass can be viewed on Cappagh Parish webcam at 10am on Tuesday.

Top Videos