Ray Nash, 87, today became likely the last person to ever be buried in Imber, Wiltshire (Picture: SWNS)
The final funeral in a ‘ghost village’ which was evacuated in December 1943 was held today.
Imber, in Wiltshire, was cleared by the Army in World War Two so the areas could be used for D-Day training exercises.
To this day the space remains part of the Salisbury Plain training area and villagers never returned.
It is now only open to the public a few times a year and you must get permission from the Ministry of Defence to be buried there.
Ray Nash, 87, today became probably the last person to ever have a funeral there, as it is unlikely any other residents would still be alive.
His son Kelvin Nash, 63, said ahead of the funeral: ‘The church in the village was the Church of St Giles, so every year on St Giles day, September 1, we would go and visit the church and village which would be open to the public.
‘My great uncle Albert was the village blacksmith and was evacuated from the village in 1943. He died in 1944 of a broken heart according to his death certificate, so it was a difficult thing for the family.
‘Quite a lot of relatives would do similar things, but it was quite a small village. I think the last funeral was about 10 years ago now, so as time has moved on he may be the last person to ever be buried there.
Public access is only allowed to Imber village a few times a year (Picture: SWNS)
Ray, pictured here with St Giles Church in Imber, recently died aged 87 (Picture: SWNS)
Around 100 guests arrived at the funeral by coach from Devizes (Picture: SWNS)
Ray pictured with his dad Jim in their garden in Imber when he was a baby (Picture: SWNS)
‘The nice thing is that since his death we have even re-discovered a third cousin of mine who contacted me to come to the funeral – she only lives five miles from the village.’
Ray had always wanted to be buried alongside his own dad, Jim, in Imber, after he died when Ray was just one.
The former mechanic for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers barely remembers his time in the village, after leaving with his mum after Jim’s death in 1936.
But Ray still visited the village every year, and felt drawn to it as his home.
Pictures of the family on one of their visits show them standing in the doorway of Ray’s mum’s home, which still exists.
The Nash family stand outside the former home of Ray’s parents during a visit decades after the village was shut down (Picture: SWNS)
The Nash family gather at the grave of Jim in Imber, where Ray has now been buried in the same plot (Picture: SWNS)
Ray Nash pictured more recently with his wife Elaine, son Kelvin and his wife, Pam (Picture: SWNS)
‘The process of arranging the funeral was much easier than I imagined,’ Kelvin said. ‘There is a man who has volunteered for 17 years to look after the village who has connections with the MoD who sorted everything for us.
‘We will have to be escorted by the army into the village, so we’re taking all the 100 or so funeral attendees by coach from Devizes.’
He said the past few weeks have been touching because ‘without exception’ people have have lovely stories to tell about his dad.
‘It is testament to dad that St Giles, Imber will be filled to capacity with dad’s relatives and friends to celebrate dad’s life and fulfil his lifelong wish to return to Imber and be reunited with the father he never knew,’ Kelvin added.
‘Imber village was open to the public as normal over the New Year period, and with 1,000 visitors in one day, interest in the village is as strong as ever.’
He thanked the military and those involved with organising the funeral, particularly the custodian of Imber Neil Skelton.
Ray leaves behind four children – Kelvin, David, Lawrence and Vicki. His wife Elaine died two years ago.
Due to Ministry of Defence restrictions, unarranged attendance to the funeral was not open to members of the public.
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