A World War II veteran with no surviving relatives celebrated his birthday with the kindness of 4,000 strangers.
Ernest Horsfall, a World War II veteran who has lived through 27 Prime Ministers and five British monarchs in his lifetime, was able to celebrate his 105th birthday with over 3,000 birthday cards from strangers.
Living in a retirement home with no surviving relatives, the Royal British Legion put out an appeal for birthday cards to make sure Ernest’s birthday would be celebrated the way it should be.
Ernest Horsfall – a long and eventful life
Ernest Horsfall, from Preston in Lancashire, served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a staff sergeant from 1940 to 1946.
He was a very active member of the British Army, serving in London during the Blitz. After this, he joined the Allied campaign in North Africa and then on to Italy to maintain tanks.
In 2019, he was given a surprise guard of honour while travelling to a service to mark the Armistice in London.
He was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on 21 April 1918 and was married for 57 years. He had a son and a sister. Now, he has no immediate family and lives in a residential home.
His 105th birthday – one to remember
For his 105th birthday, the Royal British Legion started an appeal to collect birthday cards for Ernest. Royal British Legion Blackpool branch secretary Christine Parry said, “We are working hard to make sure Ernest’s 105th birthday is a very special occasion.
“He is part of a dwindling band of brothers, but our World War Two generation should never be forgotten”.
His best friend, Terry Cook, said at the time, “We are planning a very special surprise party for him next month. He is a very modest man but he will be overwhelmed at this level of recognition”.
As a result of the appeal, strangers from all over the UK and around the world sent over 4,000 birthday cards for Ernest.
Ernest’s response – overjoyed with his birthday cards
As a result of the copious amounts of birthday cards, Ernest said, “I am utterly amazed. I want to thank each and every person who took the time to send me a message”.
Ernest talked of how he vividly remembers serving with the Amry Ordnance Corps during the Blitz in London in 1940.
He said, “There would be swarms of Nazi bombers flying overhead all night and I knew many people that were with injured or worse.
“On one occasion, our guard room was hit and six of my pals were killed, I was just lucky it wasn’t my duty that night.”
After he left the army, Ernest settled in Lancashire and worked for Vauxhall Motors. He was also a private pilot until the age of 93, at which point, companies would no longer insure him.
Amazingly, he continued to coo-pilot and work as an aircraft inspector until he was 101 years old. Happy belated Birthday, Ernest!