For the first time in my life I have read four obituaries of the same person: in the Times, Telegraph, Independent and Guardian. I’ve read them all because they were about my uncle, Richard Carr-Gomm, whose funeral we attended on Guy Fawke’s Day. My first memory of him was when I was very small and he drove me home. I can still remember being half-asleep in the back of the car beside his enormous bearskin (he was in the Coldstream Guards). On Wednesday, as the service finished, a lone Guard from his regiment stood up and played the Last Post. It was very moving and a fitting tribute to such a warm and inspiring man. He managed to combine great generosity with a delightful eccentricity. He believed our family was descended from Lady Godiva, Queen Boudicca and Adam and Eve. We will all miss him very much.
Richard Carr-Gomm – Soldier who resigned his commission and found his vocation in alleviating loneliness
In 1948, after a “good” war as a conscript with the Coldstream Guards that had taken him, in a heavy Churchill tank, from the beaches of Normandy to the gates of the Belsen concentration camp, Richard Carr-Gomm, who has died aged 86, made the decision to become a career soldier. Twice injured by shell shrapnel, he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre and a mention in dispatches. From Europe he went to Palestine, where he spent two and half years shoring up the British mandate. He applied for, and was granted, a regular commission, with the rank of captain, but there lurked within him the ambition to become the second member of the Carr-Gomm family – after his great-great uncle, Sir William – to be awarded a field-marshal’s baton.
Seven years later, at the age of 33, and to the astonishment of his family and friends, Carr-Gomm resigned his commission to become an unpaid home help to the old and the disabled, exchanging his comfortable London billet at Chelsea Barracks for a bedsit in Bermondsey, in the south-east of the city. Until his death, the once-dashing captain – tall and slender with a perpetual full beard to mask the shrapnel scars on his face – devoted himself to the care of countless people: not just the old and the disabled, or even the poor, but to anyone who was alone or simply lonely. Read more