Funeral held for Lancashire WW2 veteran Ernest Horsfall who died aged 105

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He was believed to be the oldest surviving male World War Two veteran.

105-year-old Ernest Horsfall passed away two months short of his 106th birthday at a residential home in Preston on February 20.

He was believed to be the oldest surviving male World War Two veteran.

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Ernest was not only a WWII veteran, but also a light aircraft pilot until the age of 93 when companies would no longer insure him.

He continued to co-pilot though and worked as a light aircraft inspector at Blackpool Airport until the age of 103.

Ernest Horsfall passed away at a residential home in Preston on February 20Ernest Horsfall passed away at a residential home in Preston on February 20
Ernest Horsfall passed away at a residential home in Preston on February 20 | Contributed

His funeral service was held at Fulwood Free Methodist Church on Lightfoot Lane on Friday, March 15.

Branch Secretary Christine Parry said: "We will be turning out to Ernest's funeral as we did at his 105th birthday last year.

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"He was a significant part of a dwindling band of brothers, and our World War Two generation should never be forgotten."

He received a guard of honour from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), the Royal British Legion and several veterans' associations.

His funeral service was held at Fulwood Free Methodist Church on Lightfoot Lane on Friday, March 15His funeral service was held at Fulwood Free Methodist Church on Lightfoot Lane on Friday, March 15
His funeral service was held at Fulwood Free Methodist Church on Lightfoot Lane on Friday, March 15 | National World

The Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire and the Mayor of Preston also attended.

Ernest's coffin bore a REME drape with his beret and medals on it while a bugler played the Last Post.

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His interment was at Preston Cemetery at midday, again with a full Guard of Honour and a Bugler playing Last Post.

His niece Susan said: "I am very proud of my uncle's service and it has been fascinating in recent years to be able to hear some of his wartime stories.

"In many ways he represented a very special generation and I doubt we will ever see his like again."

Ernest served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) from 1940 to 1946Ernest served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) from 1940 to 1946
Ernest served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) from 1940 to 1946 | Contributed

Ernest was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 1918 - three weeks after the RAF was formed.

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He was married for 57 years and had a son, a brother who died at a young age and four sisters.

There have been 27 Prime Ministers and five British monarchs during his lifetime.

He received more than 4,000 birthday cards last year after an appeal from the RBL saw him inundated with greetings from well-wishers

His friend, Terry Cook, described him as a "remarkable individual."

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He received a guard of honour from the REME, the Royal British Legion and several veterans' associationsHe received a guard of honour from the REME, the Royal British Legion and several veterans' associations
He received a guard of honour from the REME, the Royal British Legion and several veterans' associations | National World

"I visited Ernest just a few days before he passed away and he was in good spirits, although he knew his time was coming to an end," he said.

"He's had a wonderful life, an amazing career and remarkable longevity.

"It is a very sad occasion, of course, but also an opportunity to celebrate a very special individual."

Staff Sergeant Ernest Horsfall served with the REME from 1940 to 1946.

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The Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire and the Mayor of Preston also attendedThe Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire and the Mayor of Preston also attended
The Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire and the Mayor of Preston also attended | National World

He served in London during the blitz before joining the Allied campaign in North Africa, then went to Italy to maintain Allied tanks, directing 23 Italian civilian mechanics.

After the war, he settled in Lancashire and worked for Vauxhall Motors.

In an interview with the RBL last year, Ernest recalled serving with the Army Ordnance Corps in London during the Blitz of 1940.

He said: "There would be swarms of Nazi bombers flying overhead all night and I knew many people that were injured or worse.

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"On one occasion, our guard room was struck and six of my pals were killed, I was just lucky it wasn't my duty that night."

Ernest was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 1918 - three weeks after the RAF was formedErnest was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 1918 - three weeks after the RAF was formed
Ernest was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 1918 - three weeks after the RAF was formed | National World

He added: "I sailed to North Africa in May 1941 and became a founder member of REME in October 1942.

"In Egypt, I set up workshops to serve all the road vehicles and was quickly promoted from Private to Staff Sergeant within 12 months. I was just 22.

"I spent three-and-a-half years there, and never got any home leave during that time. The workshop served vehicles of the 8th Army which, through the Battle of El Alamein, won the war in North Africa for the Allies.

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“In 1943 I went to set up a workshop in Italy to support the campaign in Naples, and it was the experience of my life. I had two girlfriends there at the time, so that might’ve helped!

“I came home in August 1945, flying home in an RAF Lancaster bomber hastily converted to take 26 passengers. In total, it was four-and-a-half years between leaving home and coming back again."

There have been 27 Prime Ministers and five British monarchs during his lifetimeThere have been 27 Prime Ministers and five British monarchs during his lifetime
There have been 27 Prime Ministers and five British monarchs during his lifetime | National World

Ernest was demobbed in Mar 1946.

In November, 2019, he received an emotional VIP send-off from Preston railway station on his way to take part in the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance in London.

Ernest was one of only 44 World War Two veterans to take to the stage during the Festival at the Royal Albert Hall.

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