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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Tributes to ‘real gentleman’ Jack

TRIBUTES have been paid to a war hero who served as a tail gunner in the Second World War.

The funeral of John Earnshaw, known as Jack, was held yesterday. He was 90.

The average expectancy of a tail gunner in the Second World War was four trips, but Mr Earnshaw made 49.

Born in Aberdare Street in Barrow Island, he attended Barrow Grammar School, and in later years was a member of the Old Barrovians – an association of former grammar school pupils – of which he was president in 1984.

Mr Earnshaw started his apprenticeship with Vickers Armstrong as a pattern maker.

He tried to join the RAF when the Second World War began, but was refused twice because his was a reserved occupation.

He eventually joined and trained as a pilot, but was remustered as a rear gunner because the force was losing so many men in that role. His crew was tight-knit and five of them kept in touch, though only one now survives.

During the war, Mr Earnshaw married his long-term girlfriend Grace and they had three children – Glynnis, Trevor and Gregory.

He later had six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Grace sadly died suddenly in 1989.

After being made redundant at Vickers following the war, Mr Earnshaw worked as a prison officer, but found greater job satisfaction when he joined the Post Office as a telephonist, eventually becoming senior supervisor at evenings and nights.

He also became a Barrow borough councillor and county councillor.

Mr Earnshaw married Cynthia in 1991, inheriting step-children Alison and Gillian.

They moved to Ulverston in 2001 and, with Mr Earnshaw’s encouragement, Cynthia became an Ulverston town councillor and eventually mayor in 1996/7.

Mrs Earnshaw said: “He will be missed for his sense of humour and for the wealth of stories about his life at war. We all loved him for the love and patience he gave us.”

Councillor Anne Burns, a Labour county councillor for Barrow, often travelled with Mr Earnshaw to Carlisle for meetings.

She said: “He was a very gentle person and didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. We might have been on different political sides, but we were certainly on the same personal side.

“He cared very much about Barrow Island, about where he came from and his roots, and tried to help in whatever way he could.”

Councillor Jack Richardson, Barrow Borough Council’s leader, said: “Jack was a real gentleman.

“He was a very active councillor and certainly looked after the interests of his electorate and will be sadly missed.”

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