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The Story Of John Hornby 1901-1974

Author - John Haydn Barker Hornby, 2001. Edited and Published 2003 Copyright © Hubmaker
No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without the prior consent of the publisher.

Chapter 1 - Early Years

My father, John Hornby, was born in Edith Street, Shuttleworth, Lancashire on 21st February, 1901. His father, William, was a Lancashire policeman, PC 1485. John had two brothers, William (Billy) and Bert. Bert was killed in the First World War in the battle of Festubert described in one book as "a small, but deceptive gain". Billy married Freda and had a sweet shop at one side and a men's outfitters at the other side of his house, 11 Wellington Street, Earlestown, Lancashire. Billy and Freda had a daughter called Winnie, who married a man called Simm. They had a daughter called Helen, married to a Lancashire policeman, now living in Southport, Lancashire (2001).

John also had two sisters. Violet, who lived in Wallasey, Liverpool and who married a man called Wells, and who had a son, Jack, 6'4", still around (Jan 2001) and likely now to be about 73. Violet had a daughter called Hilda, now dead, who lived for a while either in Tenby or in Haverfordwest, Wales. My father's other sister was called Edith and she married a man called Bob Murray. Their only son, John, was killed at the age of 23 in the Second World War; his aircraft, a Wellington "Stickleback" took off from Gibraltar on anti submarine patrol in December 1942, never to be seen again. The aircraft's fate is unknown. However, the body of an airman was washed ashore on the Algerian coast some time later. It was John Murray's, the only one of the crew ever found. He is buried in Le Petit Lac Cemetery (Plot E, Row B, Grave 4), Oran, Algeria. John Murray was my Godfather.

My father's boyhood was not a happy one. His real mother died when he was young and is buried in Shuttleworth Churchyard, Lancashire. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Brown. His father, William, re married a lady called Annie Trippier who was a prison wardress. William Hornby and Annie moved to Tarleton, Lancashire, and my father was placed when quite young, in service to Sir Harcourt Clare at Bank Hall for about two years. He used to talk of having to clean twelve pairs of shoes every morning before school. These, presumably, were of the family in residence.

One of my father's most disagreeable tasks was having to twice weekly push a two wheeled cart (laden with vegetables for sale) about 6 miles from Bank Hall farm in Bretherton to Leyland Market, a huge task for a young boy although not uncommon in those days. He would be about 14 years old. About this time, his other brother Bert was killed in the First World War.

My father left Bank Hall to join the Royal Navy in September 1916 at the age of 15. In his notes for an address given to Hoole and District Young Farmers Association on 29 March 1955, he wrote "In September, 1916, during the first world war, I decided to join the Royal Navy in order to get my own back on the Germans for killing my brother in 1915, also to do my bit in destroying the menace which I was convinced would eventually ruin the home life of Britain. To join the Navy at the age of fifteen meant that I should have to sign for twelve years from the age of 18. This was really not what I wanted, but determined as I was, I signed. I trained in bare feet, but held my own amongst young men of various countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Wales and individual countries, some of whom came from a very rough stock. My exploits in both Tarleton and Leyland enabled me to fight my own battles, because as some of you already know, I was known as a "bad lad"."

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