Veteran warriors stood in tribute as a “lion heart” former Royal Marine, murdered after watching a rugby match in South Africa, was laid to rest in a Somerset churchyard.
Brett Williams, 29, who had served in Afghanistan, was set upon by five burly men on the outfield of the Sharks rugby club’s stadium in Durban as he enjoyed brief free time before flying back to Britain from his job in marine security.
Yesterday, family and dozens of friends gathered for a thanksgiving and funeral service in the parish church at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, the village where Mr Williams lived with his partner, Louise Scott and their four year old daughter, Lailah.
Ms Scott spoke of her sorrow, and her pride in having known the man who would “jump to help anyone”, was a doting father and “encouraged me in all I did”.
She said: “When he was away with the Corps or in transit he would always find a way of contacting me.
“He knew I would wait patiently at home, that I would wait there until the end of time, and I still will. He was a warrior with a most loving heart.”
Ms Scott, and Brett’s uncle, Steven Williams, who had flown over from South Africa for the service, also spoke of the strength of Mr Williams’ Christian faith.
And Ms Scott said he was strong in other ways “the best arm-wrestler ever”.
She said she had felt “a rage inside me the likes of which I have never experienced, and some desperate times” since Mr Williams’ death, but added: “I know that we have to let go of our anger and fill our hearts with love for Brett.”
Great friend from Royal Marine days, Guy Millar said Mr Williams was: “A strong man, and easy-going, the life and soul of the party. He was a lion heart, inspirational, and to me enormous – larger than life. He was like a brother to me, an uncle to my son, the greatest friend I could ever have.”
Mr Williams, who was born in South Africa and grew up with his family in Liverpool, was a member of 40 Commando based at nearby Norton Manor Camp, before leaving to work in marine security.
The service was conducted by 40 Commando’s chaplain, the Rev Steven Reed. Many serving Royal Marines, and some veterans, were in the congregation and a standard bearer carried the Mid Devon Royal Marines Association standard.
Last Post and Reveille sounded before the congregation left the church for the committal service in the sunny churchyard.
Mr Williams died on March 24, his partner’s birthday. He had been due to fly home on March 29
Five men have appeared before magistrates in Durban charged with Mr Williams’ murder. Blayne Shepard, aged 23, his brother Kyle, aged 25, Andries Van der Merwe and Dustin Van Wyk, both aged 23, and Grant Cramer, also 23, have all be granted bail.