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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 13 - The Final Years

My father's first stroke probably happened whilst at the Village Post Office in Much Hoole. He was seen to be trying to support the wall by standing back against it, thinking it was falling down on top of him. He was brought home and recovered well.

On 18 August 1961 he would be 60 then he had another stroke at home. He was trying to shave in the morning and lost the use of his right hand. He never returned to work.

On 18 July 1962 he attended his leaving presentation at the Technical College and received a cheque and mother a bouquet. He had several strokes and heart attacks from then on until a serious heart attack on 25 August 1974 pointed to the end of his life. He contracted pneumonia and mother and Gloria had to nurse him in a confused state until he died on 1 October 1974.

When he died I opened a letter addressed to me which said that he wanted to be buried at sea in uniform and this could be arranged through the Preston Sea Cadets. I knew mother and Gloria wanted him cremated in Southport and his ashes to be left there.

What was I to do? I went to Preston by train to see to the funeral arrangements. It involved four train changes. On each part of the journey I made a point of telling the story of my dilemma to selected complete strangers. All four said, totally independently, "Do what your mother wants" or "When someone dies, look after the living" largely the same thing.

He was cremated as mother wished.

Preston Sea Cadets played a large part in the organisation of his funeral service. He was laid in his coffin in uniform and carried shoulder high by a party of sea cadets through the village in heavy rain. It was all very nicely done.

He was cremated at Southport, and his ashes distributed there. A nice fir tree was planted in his name, but it died after a few years. His name lives on in their Book of Remembrance, embellished by a Royal Navy crest. There was a nice report in the local paper and a photograph of the cortege.

Throughout his life he was quite a religious man most seafarers are. Although his father was a Roman Catholic, my father was fairly staunch C of E. I do not know in which faith he was raised, but his service record shows "C of E" throughout. His writings showed that he prayed a lot on long and lonely watches at sea. In his notes for a talk to St. James' Men's Society, Preston, on 5 Nov 1951 he quoted "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of" and referred to St. Matthew, Chap. 48; St. Mark, Chap 4, St. Luke Chap. 5.

In a very brief summary therefore he had a hard boyhood, a tough, exciting life in the Navy, quite a satisfactory working life in "civvy street", a fair home life and some difficult final years.

I liked his company. We went beach combing and mushrooming together many times on the marshes. We even cycled to Plymouth together all the way from home when I was about 14. We met some of his old seafaring friends and had a pleasant holiday. However I suspect the cycling was quite an ordeal for him he had a very heavy cycle not designed for long distance touring, and he was none too well.

So that, then, is the story of John Hornby and I hope you have enjoyed reading about him. As for me, I suppose I have always envied his service life, but because of my asthma, did not follow him into the Navy. Even if I had I don't suppose for a minute that my time would have been half as exciting and memorable as the story told here.

John Hornby's War Medals
Medals Left- Right: British Empire Medal, British War Medal 1914-20, !st World War Allied Victory Medal 1914-19, Second World War 1939-45 Star, Second World War Atlantic Star, Second World War Africa Star, Second World War Italy Star, Second World War Defence Medal, Second World War British War Medal 1939-45, Naval Long Service & Good Conduct Medal. Not Shown Tarleton Berlin Medal

Introduction & Contents

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