EHW ‘Sonny’ Barnes – A Life Well Lived:

Sonny loved telling jokes; some would make you laugh, others would make you groan and some were so old they had been translated from Egyptian hieroglyphics. He was a fan of the “Goons” and “Monty Python” and had a sense of humour that found its way into the everyday – for example a cooking recipe; “RICHMOND SAUSAGES – Gas mark 7, 17 to 22 minutes. Place on tray in middle of oven. Turn occasionally, the sausages, not you.”

Sonny loved telling stories too; stories from when he was a lad scrumping apples in Tooting, from his schooldays at Fircroft Primary School, as an wartime evacuee with his younger brother and two sisters in Littlehampton and then West Wittering, his service in the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy and his subsequent work and family life. Sonny so loved telling stories to family, friends, neighbours and anyone else he might meet.

In 1941 he was a member of the 1st Chichester Battalion, Sussex Home Guard, receiving on the 4th March a commendation from the Officer Commanding regarding items he found; “property that may very easily belonged to the enemy”. The commendation goes onto say “it is work of the nature that you have performed in finding these articles that makes you so useful in the defence of the country.” Sonny was thirteen at the time.

1943 saw him enlisted in the Royal Navy undergoing training in Scotland, where he was put on a charge for sauntering along to “A Life on the Oceans Wave”. But Sonny didn’t mind, as that meant doing more ‘rope work’ or ‘boxing the compass’ and these things he enjoyed. It was in Scotland that he became confirmed in the Church of Scotland. After training he joined HMS Pheasant as a stoker, the youngest member of the crew. He once fell into the dry dock at Gibraltar (he was drunk) and witnessed the Japanese surrender in 1945. He was hospitalised in Australia with malaria and returned late from weekend leave (drunk again) managing to talk his way out of disciplinary action!

In later life Sonny would join the HMS Pheasant Shipmates Association known as the “U49’ers” after the ships pennant number “U49”. He was once asked by the postman, seeing the U49 newsletter, if he had served in the German Navy!

After the war Sonny joined the Merchant Navy and travelled the world; from Panama City to Pitcairn Island, from America to South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. In America, he experienced racial segregation first hand and in Australia he worked on a sheep farm. In South America, he bought silk ties and shirts. From Pitcairn Island he bought home a carving of a flying fish.
After leaving the Merchant Navy, he went into Floral Sundries, working in the Covent Garden Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Market and after a brief spell in 1968/69 working for the Post Office (he took part in the six mile round London Postman’s Walk) he went back to working for Cocquerels Sundries as their Warehouse and Transport Manager and latterly as the manager of their shop in the New Covent Garden Market at Nine Elms.

It was as the manager of the shop that Sonny really came into his own; he loved working ‘front of house’ laughing and joking with his customers. He was given a free rein to buy in whatever he thought would sell well (and it always did) driving a hard bargain with his suppliers.
Sonny was 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 Maureen’s death they were reunited.

There is too little time to tell you more but you can see his was truly a life well lived.

And finally, to end in his own words;
“This has been an ESB Miracle Production – if it’s good it’s a Miracle”