Ernest Harold William (Sonny) Barnes: A Life Well Lived
5th March 1927 - 4th November 2022
|EHW Barnes - E for Ernest after
his father, H for Harold after his uncle-by-marriage (and not Horatio
after Horatio Nelson as he once told me) and W for William after his
uncle (also known as Uncle Bub). Known as Ernie to others but as 'Sonny' to the family after the
1928 Al Jolson song 'Sonny Boy'. Sonny grew up in Chetwode Road,
Tooting, where apart from scrumping apples he played cricket and
football in the street and was blamed (sometimes wrongly) for the
breaking of his neighbours windows! Young Sonny was always keen to
help his classmates with their work, however this often earned him a
whack across the backside with the cane. As did an unfortunate event
with one of those noise making balloon toys that accidentally went BURP
BURP in class. Sonny didn't wait to be told, he went straight to the
Headmasters office for the punishment book and cane.
On the 1st September 1939, Sonny, aged 12 and his two sisters, Kathleen and Doris and his younger brother Dennis were evacuated from their home at 41 Chetwode Road, Tooting to Littlehampton. Being the oldest of the four, he was given the job of keeping the family together. He worked as the butchers boy delivering meat and spent time on the fishing boats that sailed from the River Arun in Littlehampton. By 1941, the family had been relocated to 20 Stocks Lane, Bracklesham Bay, where he joined the 1st (Chichester) Battalion, Sussex Home Guard, receiving a commendation on the 4th March 1941 from the Officer Commanding Number 1 Battalion. He had discovered items that "may very easily belonged to the enemy". The commendation goes on to say "it is work of the nature that you have performed in finding these articles, which makes you so very useful in the defence of your country".rolex daytona mens rolex calibre 7750 116500 automatic black dial rolex has been providing customized services to customers.immediately who sells the best zf rolex daytona 116519ln mens rolex calibre 7750 mingzhu engine automatic is undoubtedly synchronised with their have significance.
After leaving school and returning home but not to Chetwode Road (his
parents house had been bombed in 1940) but to 28 Oakmead Road, Balham.
He joined Merx Mclennan as a trainee draughtsman, cycling to Esher every day and one evening
a week at
night school. This lasted until June 1944, when Sonny, now aged 17 joined the
Royal Navy with a letter of recommendation from Merx Mclennan and a
request the he could be assigned a role that would compliment his work
as a trainee draughtsman. Sonny's Royal Navy training took place in Scotland
(his service record has only just been discovered - August 2023) during
which time he was confirmed in the Church of Scotland. Was he particularly
religious? Maybe - he did attend Sunday School as a lad - but maybe it
was because he saw that 'other denominations' were excused from the
Sunday Church Parade.
|He joined the
(click link for more information) and served
for a time on the S.S. Mahana - famous for a 'small strike' that
took place in New Plymouth, New Zealand over bad food. On the Shaw Saville cargo liner 'Matoroa' he had his own quarters and enjoyed food as
served to the fare paying passengers. The 'Matoroa', was a refrigerated cargo
ship that travelled between the UK and New Zealand via the Panama Canal.
It was in Panama City in May 1948 that he became a member of the 'Dog House Bar'. It was at this time he had the opportunity to sit the Sixth Engineer's exam. In between trips (in the Merchant Service, you would sign on for a given journey), Sonny would find work at the dockyard sheds at the same time as signing on the dole! He may have even put in for overtime he didn't actually work!
|After leaving the Merchant Service
in the June of 1954, Sonny
started work for Monroe's at the Covent Garden Flower Market. He was a
packer, basically packing floral sundries in tea chests for transport.
When his friend George Heath was emigrating to Australia, Sonny packed
up George's (and his family's) possessions and refused to take the money
George offered, he even turned down the offer of George's jeep. I think
this shows that Sonny was always prepared to help a friend and not take
anything in return. At the market, fruit and vegetables were sold and Sonny would buy
damaged boxes of fruit, oranges, for example and sell off the undamaged
ones to his work mates - covering his costs - and be able to take oranges home for the
family basically free of charge! He left Monroe's and joined another floral sundries company,
Cocqueral's had a warehouse of the Walworth Road, in a disused school building - St Paul's Old School - the school was next to a railway viaduct and the arches beneath were used as packing bays and storage. The main school building housed several offices on the ground floor, the rest of the building being used as a warehouse. Each floor was 'L-shaped' with a large fireplace in the corner of the 'L', each leg of the 'L' would have been used as class room areas. I do remember there being small rusting coat pegs. The toilets were in the back of one of the railway arches. When the old Covent Garden Market closed and the new building open over at Nine Elms, the warehouse was transferred over to the new market where Cocqueral's now had a shop that sold floral sundries to florists. When Cocqueral's were taken over by George Smalley, Sonny became the manager and this was where he really excelled. Not only did he have an eye for what would sell, he also enjoyed meeting and joking with his customers.
In a strange quirk of history, the New Covent Garden Market at Nine Elms was build over the street where his grandfather, Charles John Barnes was born in 1871.
Certificate of Membership
very much for family; he often spoke of his Gran and Grandad and he
never forgot his sister Jean, who died in 1933 just one year old. When
evacuated on the 1st
September 1939 Sonny made sure that he and his brother and sisters were
all kept together, not an easy thing when there are four young children
to be accommodated.
Sonny married Maureen on the 1st January 1955; they had two children, Michael and Lynn, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Sonny cared for Maureen after her stroke in 2014 right up to her death in 2017. They had been married for 62 years and were very much a couple; Sonny never got over the loss of Maureen.
Five years and two days after Maureenís death they were reunited.
There is so much more - but as you can see from this brief look at his life - his was truly a life well lived.
|And as a special treat, recorded on a mobile phone at the Angmering Manor Hotel and featuring Sonny Barnes on vocals - Volare Click on the link to download the video and open with a media player.
|And finally, to quote one of his favourite sayings; "This is a ESB Miracle Production - if it's good it's a miracle!"