was born on the 6th of July 1923 at 31 Oxford Street in the Audley district of
Blackburn in Lancashire.
He was the third of four children born to Thurston Jackson,
a Cotton Weaver, and his wife Sarah (nee Howson). He was baptised about a
month later at St Matthew's Church on the 7th of August.
The family home
on Oxford Street, was a 'two up two down' terrace, so John would have had to
share a room with his two sisters, Celia and Irene. He would have attended the
nearby St Matthew's School, which was between Cambridge and Oxford Streets. He
was known by everyone as 'Jack'.
On leaving school Jack went to work as a
Yarn Dyer at Blackburn Dye Works on Haslingden Road (a company that is still in
existence on the same site). However, he soon moved into engineering and became
a Capstan Lathe Setter at the Rosehill Foundry of Willan & Mills on Higher
Audley Street. It was here that he met a young girl called Grace who had the
same surname as him, she was working as a Capstan Lathe Operator, so lots of
opportunity to talk to each other.
Jack and Grace were married on the
18th of September 1943 at St Matthew's Church. The marriage was witnessed by
Jack's much older cousin Leonard Salisbury and by Grace's older sister Olive
Of course World War II was ongoing at that time. Jack would have
had to register for service when he reached 18 years of age in July 1941 but
wasn't mobilised until November 1943 (either due to his engineering skills, or
perhaps they waited until he was 20). He reported to HMS Gosling, the Fleet Air
Arm establishment at Risley near Warrington, on the 3rd November 1943 for 10
weeks of basic service training and to be an Air Mechanic. Training continued, with
more intensive courses and 'on the job' instruction at various shore locations
around Britain from Lee on Solent (HMS Daedelus) to Arbroath (HMS Condor).
Having attained the rank of Air Mechanic (Engines) 1st Class, he was finally
posted on the 30th of July 1945, 10 weeks after Germany had surrendered, to HMS
Landrail at Machrihanish on the Mull of Kintyre. Here he helped to maintain the
engines of 806 Squadron's aircraft. In December 1945 he got a wonderful
opportunity to work on board the Aircraft Carrier 'HMS Victorious' during a
round trip to Sydney in Australia(1).
The primary purpose of the voyage was to repatriate Commonwealth troops and to
deliver 62 aircraft to the Royal Navy Air Station at Trincomalee. The aircraft
were lashed down on the flight-deck, as the hangars had been converted to
dormitories. This must have been a really pleasant trip, almost a cruise. HMS
Victorious made two more trips but Jack wasn't on them. He was de-mobbed in
April 1946 soon after the carrier returned to Plymouth. As Jack never went to
sea during war-time, the only medal he was entitled to receive was the 1939-45
British War Medal but he never claimed it. His son claimed it for him in 2014.
On his return home to Blackburn Jack was able to get his old job back, as an
Iron Turner with Willan & Mills making parts for textile machines. He and Grace
rented a house in Maudsley Street, where, in 1947 their only child Norman
was born. Jack supplemented their income by working some evenings and weekends
as a Painter and Decorator. As the cotton industry and the demand for looms
declined, mills and loom makers began to close down. Jack moved to R and J Dick
at the Phoenix Iron Works on Shakespeare Street in the Bank Top district of
Blackburn - they made parts and bearings for gearboxes. Around 1960, the family
moved into a newly built flat in Parkwood Road, close to Queen's Park, and Jack
was able to get an Iron Turning job in a small engineering company in nearby
In the early 1960's, the spectre of nuclear attack loomed,
so Jack became quite involved with the local Civil Defence Corps. He attended
many Home Office training courses and became an instructor with the Corps.
In 1967 Jack and Grace moved to a newly built detached
bungalow in Marquis Close, Lower Darwen. They had a garden for the first time,
which they both enjoyed. Jack built a greenhouse and grew grapes for making wine
but it was never a good year for 'Chateau Marquis'. He got quite involved with
the new church of St James's at Blackamoor and was a Church Warden for many
Jack began to suffer from Angina and took medication to relieve
the symptoms. The small engineering company he was working for also had a small
weaving shed with a few looms that made heavy fabrics for furniture coverings
and curtains, so Jack gave up the Turning work for a lighter job 'minding' the looms during the night shift.
His heart problems got worse and he had a couple attacks that left him in
Intensive Care. Sadly, on the 6th of July 1980, his 57th birthday, having had a
wonderful day out watching Artillery Day on Salisbury Plain, Jack suffered a
fatal Heart Attack at home. His funeral took place on the 11th of July at St James's
Church and was well attended. It was followed by a short service at Pleasington
Crematorium. There is a memorial stone to both Jack and Grace, over their ashes
in the Garden of Rememberance behind St James's Church.
(1) A full account of HMS Victorious's voyage to Sydney
can be seen via the Navy Records tab above.