Card appeal for WW2 Army veteran Ernest Horsfall's 105th birthday

Image source, Handout

Image caption,

Ernie Horsfall, seen here in 2019, is one of the UK's oldest surviving servicemen

The Royal British Legion has started an appeal to collect birthday cards for a World War Two veteran as he turns 105.

Ernest Horsfall, from Preston, Lancashire, served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a staff sergeant from 1940 to 1946.

He was given a surprise guard of honour while travelling to a service to mark the Armistice in London in 2019.

Born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on 21 April 1918, Mr Horsfall was married for 57 years and had a son and a sister.

He has no immediate family and lives in a residential home.

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

Image caption,

Mr Horsfall spent time in Italy and North Africa during World War Two

Mr Horsfall vividly remembers serving with the Army Ordnance Corps in London during the London Blitz of 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."

Mr Horsfall was running tank repair workshops near the Pompeii road in Italy on VE Day in 1945.

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

At the age of 43, he took his first flying lesson and was a private pilot until the age of 93 when companies would no longer insure him.

He continued to co-pilot though and worked as an aircraft inspector until the age of 101.

Video caption,

In November 2019, he was given a surprise guard of honour as he boarded a train to London

In 2020, on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Mr Horsfall to say he was "awesome" and "a credit to his generation".

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.

Mr Horsfall has already received a card from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

During Mr Horsfall's lifetime there have been 27 prime ministers and five monarchs.

His best friend, Terry Cook, said: "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."

Cards can be sent to Brooklands Care Home, 6 Black Bull Lane, Preston PR2 3PU ahead of his birthday on 21 April.

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