Young aircraftsman helped in occupied Germany

He had just turned 18 when he found himself as a British aircraftsman

Senior Aircraftsman Eric Hornsey (right) poses with two friends during basic training.

He had just turned 18 when he found himself as a British aircraftsman, heading over to Germany with the occupation force after the Second World War had ended.

Eric Hornsey spent three years in the military, from 1955 to 1958. “At that time there was a two-year national service. Everyone over 18 had to do it.”

It was either a two-year conscription service or a three-year regular service with benefits. Hornsey enlisted when he was 17 and a half. “Another six months and they would have put me conscription. So I beat them to the punch and joined up before.”

“I was in the air force. We were the ground defense for the airfield,” said Hornsey. He used 40mm anti-aircraft guns that could fire 240 rounds per minute.

As part of their practice, Hornsey and other boys would travel to Kiel, Germany twice a year and shoot the guns at drogues, which were pulled behind planes as targets.

For a short time Hornsey served a border guard with the British Air Force in Russia. “We guarded the border between the Russian sector and the British sector.”

Two and a half years were spent with the Wildenrath Airfield in Germany. “We were mobile so we could defend any airfield.”

The boys would dig holes for the anti-aircraft guns, move them from place to place, camouflage them and pretend to go to war, said Hornsey with a laugh.

While Hornsey enjoyed his time in the military he didn’t enjoy every job he had to do. Digging holes for the guns while it rained and the ground turned into muddy soup was one such occasion.

He also didn’t like the parades hosted for dignitaries. Hornsey and the other boys practiced drills for weeks on end, sometimes in the pouring rain, to show a dignitary who may or may not even look at them.

Once a week one of the boys, with a loaded machine gun, accompanied a courier to the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. There a briefcase with unknown containments was loaded onto a plane. “That wasn’t a fun job. You never knew what you were going to run into,” said Hornsey.

During Britain’s occupation of Germany, anti-aircraft guns and other machinery were shipped back to Britain. Anything that wasn’t functioning 100 per cent was burned and or buried.

Hornsey recalls tents with missing zippers being burned in holes in the ground. That was another task he didn’t like; digging the burn pits.

However, despite some unpleasantries Hornsey believes the military taught him a lot. “I think the military gives you a different perspective on life because you’re not your own boss. You learn to be responsible and take care of the job you were paid to do.”

Hornsey’s respect for the military was transferred to his son, David Hornsey, who was a part of it for 20 years.

David, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion like his father, served in Bosnia, Croatia and Afghanistan.

Just Posted

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

WCPS looks to its schools and communities for new mission, vision, values and beliefs

WCPS’s Board looks to students, and staff in advance of larger community engagement

Valentine’s Day holds sweet memories for widow

Rimbey woman recalls special Valentine life changing moments

Vehicle stolen with keys left in ignition

RCMP warn motorists to lock vehicles

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Alix resident captures beams of light near Lacombe

Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer photos have since gone viral around the world

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

Wilson-Raybould’s cabinet move due to departure from team: Trudeau

Jody Wilson-Raybould suddenly quit the cabinet this week, but Trudeau isn’t saying

Single on Valentine’s Day? Don’t worry, we got you

A round up of some of the funny memes out there for singles this Valentine’s Day

One Maskwacis man faces eight charges after police raids

Maskwacis RCMP seize firearms, cocaine during search warrants

WATCH: Canada Winter Games athletes arrive from across the country

Up to 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches will arrive throughout the day Thursday and Friday

Most Read