Frank Thornber
served LFs 1950 -1962
Korea Veteran.

Tribute to Frank Thornber, my father.

When I Die and Leave Behind

When I die and leave behind
This earth I love
These trees, this sky,
The pounding sea,
The yearly hope of spring,
Cry not for me,
My soul has wings
And in it's freedom sings.

Frank Thornber, my/our Dad was born on the 6th September 1932, although his original birth certificate seems to have been altered to a year earlier, but more on that later. He lived in small cottage on Forrester Street, Padiham, Lancashire, the eldest of three boys, brother of Richard and Clifford.
Dad's ancestors had been big property owners in the area, but had fallen on harder times by the time my Dad came along. There was still some property in the family and Dad used to go around with his Grandmother collecting rent, a chore he never enjoyed. Dad spent a large amount of time living with his Aunty, whilst his mother was ill, which proved to be a hard and very strict experience.
On a brighter note, one of Dad's ancestors bred what we would nowadays call a rare breed chicken, the Thornber hen, which is still around and seen by my brother Christopher, fairly recently at a country show.
Attending what is now called Padiham Primary School, Dad enjoyed some of his classes, but wasn't averse to bunking off lessons to climb the nearby Pendle Hill with his friends.
On completion of school at 14 years of age, Dad was apprenticed to be a locomotive fireman and steam trains became a lifelong passion. Unfortunately, the rail company and Dad parted company when it was discovered that his eye-sight wasn't up to the requirements to become a train driver. Career choices for a young Lancashire lad were limited at that time, it was either the coal pit or the cotton mills, so Dad spent a short time as a Tatler or mechanic working on the looms in Progress Mills, where his Dad worked and his brothers would eventually join too. Being cooped up in a noisy weaving shed didn't suit Dad, so at the tender age of 17 and a half or possibly 16 and a half (hence we think the change to his birth certificate) On the 14th September 1950, Fusilier Thornber joined the King's Own Fusiliers and later the Lancashire Fusiliers, where he served for 12 years, reaching the rank of Corporal. The photograph on the order of service is one of the first photographs of Dad in his uniform.
No sooner had Dad finished his basic training before he was being shipped off to Korea, where he saw action on the Korean Peninsula, losing many close friends and ending up injured and on an American hospital ship. Once recovered, Dad was posted to Hong Kong, a country he always remembered with affection, experiencing the nightlife of Wan Chai and acquiring his first tattoos - something he always regretted.
Dad's main job in the army was working in MT (Motor transport to the uninitiated) becoming in charge of the motor pool in Wellington Barracks (Bury) and later training members of the TA personnel.
The post-war years of the 1950's were an unsettled time and military personnel were called on to protect and rebuild war torn Germany. Dad found himself with the Lancashire Fusiliers in Germany and it was at this time that one of my Mam's army penfriends acquired a girlfriend and asked Mam if she could write to his friend, a nice lad who didn't have anyone to write to. Letters started to flow and Mam soon found herself as the 'middle man' in communications between Dad and his mother, a life long occupation for my Mam!
Mam and Dad met when he came to Redcar on Christmas leave in 1955. Dad was obviously taken with Mam and asked my Nana (not Granddad I might add!) in the following February if they could marry. An engagement ring in a Valentine's card (February 1955) sealed the deal, although my Mam was a bit bemused as to whether it was a formal proposal. It obviously was, because Mam and Dad married in June 1956, hastened along the way by the start of the Suez crisis. They managed to fit in a honeymoon in Blackpool and Dad, ever the romantic, made Mam do the rowing in Stanley Park! Dad and Mam's marriage lasted for 52 years through thick and thin, good times and bad with Mam always unfailingly looking after and supporting him to the very end.
Various posts in the UK followed. Bury, TA barracks around the country and London at the Tower of London (not for treason, although he did frequent the Glasshouse on a couple of occasions for minor incidences) but for changing the guard and was escort to the Queen's keys in the Tower.
Children came on the scene and Mam and Dad produced me, Sue and Christopher by the time Dad left the Army in 1962. Life in Civvie Street proved to be quite tough and 100 hour working weeks driving long distance lorries the length and breadth of the UK were the norm for Dad. Life eventually settled into more regular hours with work for Smith of Madison and finally Calor Gas, as a tanker driver until he retired. In the meantime, two more children, Alison and Katrina enlarged the Thornber clan.
What was Dad like? Well, I am sure you will all have your own stories and memories of 'Mr Calor Gas', Frank Thornber, my Dad and I look forward to hearing some of them later. My early memories are of times spent with Dad in the cab of his lorry, stops at transport cafes for a big breakfast and even bigger mugs of tea, a quiet unassuming man with a droll, observational sense of humour, who made friends easily, but had his own personal demons that he constantly battled with. He was a man who liked the open road and passed on his appreciation of travel, how to read a map and his love of dark chocolate - thanks Dad (pat stomach)
On the subject of food, Dad would always, without fail go for the prawn cocktail starter when dining out. One Christmas Day years ago, most of the family went out to for a 4 or 5 course Christmas meal at an Italian restaurant. Dad, true to form ordered the prawn cocktail starter, but hadn't banked on the size of Italian portions. Well, his jaw dropped on the starter's arrival and was heard to exclaim 'Dorothy, look at the size of those prawns. They're almost a meal in themselves.' This became Dad's catchphrase and used by various members of the family over the course of the years.

Dad enjoyed overseas travel, especially to warm countries and took holidays in the former Yugoslavia, Madeira and Malta - a place he visited at least a dozen times and contemplated retiring to. He joined his brother Clifford on several cruises and trips to many Mediterranean countries. My biggest regret is that I did not get the opportunity to take Dad back to Hong Kong, something that he would have loved have done.
Hobbies wise, Dad biggest passion was photography, a love which has passed on to my daughter Yasmin. Dad was asked to take photos at a number of weddings, christenings and family gatherings and was very good at it too. You may not know, but his earlier interests were woodwork, keeping an allotment, learning about computers. My Mam also assures me that he was a pretty good dancer, listing the square tango and rumba royale amongst his favourite moves. He also enjoyed the Whit Walks in Padiham, something he tried to attend when he could.
Dad had eclectic tastes in music and my early memories are filled with sounds of Reginald Dixon at the Blackpool Tower organ, the strings of Mantovanni. He even bought ABBA's Waterloo when it was released for the Eurovision Song Contest. Dad was a big supporter of my music career, especially in later years and bought me my first ever brass band record, Black Dyke Mills Band, who played the music you heard at the start of this service.
It is no secret that Dad enjoyed a pint, hence the floral tribute that you see today. His last pint was taken at the Lakes Social Club, of which he was a founder member. Dad always joked about a Co-Op ham tea for his funeral, a tradition amongst earlier generations of the Thornber family, and it is fitting we should have the opportunity to send him on his way with a final drink and bite to eat in the Lakes Club, where I hope you will join us on completion of this service.
Dad was also a strong supporter of the Royal British Legion and its Poppy appeal (hence my unseasonal poppy) for which there will be a collection in lieu of flowers at the end of this service for anyone that would like to contribution.
Dad's wish was to be laid to rest with members of his family and his ashes will be interred with those of his father, mother and two brothers in the Memorial Gardens in Padiham.
I would like to finish this tribute with the collect or regimental prayer of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers that my Dad would have known;
O God our guide from of old, grant that wherever thy servants of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are called upon to serve, we may follow the example of thy servant St George and ever prove steadfast in Faith and valiant in Battle, through him who is the Captain of our Salvation, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rest in peace Dad.

David J Thornber

The Church Service

Introduction and Bible Reading


The Lord’s Prayer


Hymn : Dear Lord and Father of mankind

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

Forgive our foolish ways;

Reclothe us in our rightful mind,

In purer lives Thy service find,

In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,

Beside the Syrian sea,

The gracious calling of the Lord,

Let us, like them, without a word,

Rise up and follow Thee.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from our souls the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire

Thy coolness and Thy balm;

Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,

O still, small voice of calm.


Bible Reading and Reflection




David John Thornber



A Minute's Silence






'Eternal Home' (Traditional)

Go forth upon your journey from this world
In the name of God the Father
Who created you

In the name of Jesus Christ
Who died for you

In the name of the Holy Spirit
Who shines through you

In friendship with God's saints
Aided by the holy angels
May you rest this day
In the peace and love
Of your eternal home

Hymn: The 23rd Psalm
(The Lord's my Shepherd)

The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; he leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul he doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E'en for his own name's sake.

Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill:
For thou art with me, and thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God's house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.




The Committal


Exit to
'The day though gavest, Lord, is ended'




Service led by
The Reverend John Weetman

The Crematorium Service
Order of Service

In loving Memory of
Frank Thornber
6 September 1932
20 March 2008






St. Bede's Chapel, Teesside Crematorium
Acklam Road, Middlesbrough, Cleveland TS5 7HD

Friday 11th April 2008
10.00 am


Opening music

'Cornet Carillon'
Music: Binge
Performed by The Black Dyke Mills Band





'Dear Lord and Father of mankind'
Words: John Whittier, Music: Frederick Maker
The 23rd Psalm, 'The Lord is my Shepherd'
Music: Crimond


Concluding music


'The day though gavest, Lord, is ended'
Words: John Ellerton, Music: Clement Scholefield
combined with
Performed by The Massed Bands of H.M Royal Marines

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Dorothy and the Thornber family would like to thank everyone for their condolences and kind words of support

As indicated, in lieu of flowers donations will be made to
The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal 2008.

The Royal British Legion was founded in 1921. The organisation
provides financial, social and emotional support to millions who have
served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces, and their
dependants. Currently, nearly 10.5 million people are eligible for
support and they receive thousands of calls for help every year.