FRIENDS and family said farewell to a former NCO in the Coldstream Guards who lived in Bramley.

Eric Jeffery Gulston, who was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery in the Malayan Emergency, was described by his wife as a “wonderful man”.

Mr Gulston, who was 83, had been a Warrant Officer in the Coldstream Guards and in retirement, became caretaker of The Clift Meadow Pavilion and the village hall in Bramley.

His funeral was held at St James’ Church in Silchester Road, Bramley, last Monday.

Major Andrew Napier, a former commanding officer, spoke of Mr Gulston’s distinguished career.

He was born on April 24, 1926 in Kent and joined the Coldstream Guards during the Second World War in 1943 – giving a false date of birth as he was too young.

As a tank gunner in the Guards Armoured Divison, he fought from Normandy across north-west Europe, crossing the Rhine, and he was in northern Germany when the Germans surrendered in 1945.

During more than 23 years with the Coldstreams, he served all over the world, including Palestine, Malaya, Egypt, Germany, Kenya and Aden.

He also did tours of public duty and worked as an instructor at the Mons Officer Cadet School.

While in Malaya in 1949, Mr Gulston, then a Lance Sergeant, set off on patrol in command of five men to investigate an area thought to have been used by Communist terrorists. They were cut off and forced on a rugged detour, pursued by the enemy.

The operation was only meant to be a few hours, but all six men returned seven-and-a-half days later, and Mr Gulston was awarded an Immediate Military Medal for his leadership.

Major Napier said: “Eric was the most excellent Company Sergeant Major anyone could wish for – reliable, a pillar of strength and wisdom, and completely unflappable.”

Mr Gulston retired from the army in 1966 and worked for several employers, including the Gas Board and London County Council before joining the Corps of Commissionaires.

One of five siblings, he lost his first wife Doris, with whom he had a son, Eric.

He met his second wife, Eileen, in 1988 at County Hall in London. The couple moved to Bramley 13 years ago and tied the knot in the Holy Ghost Church, in Sherborne Road, in Basingstoke in 1999.

He was particularly close to his grandson James.

Mrs Gulston, 70, said: “I had the most wonderful 21 years with Eric and he was always the perfect gentleman.

“He had very old values and was very lovely, and he lived life to the full to the very end.

“I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the respect everyone had for him.”

A reception was held on Clift Meadow in Bramley, before Mr Gulston’s family attended a private service at Basingstoke Crematorium.