John JACKSON (J0204#) Last Edited: 24 Mar 2019

John Jackson 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 Jackson.

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 Walter Street.

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 years.

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 was on the 16th of July at St James's Church and was well attended. It was followed by a short service at Pleasington Crematorioum. There is a memorial stone to both Jack and Grace, over their ashes in the Garden of Rememberance behind St James's Church.


Notes

(1) A full account of HMS Victorious's voyage to Sydney can be seen via the Miscellaneous tab above.