World War Two pilot and all round family man ‘Jack’ John Cross dies, aged 95
PUBLISHED: 17:23 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:23 02 March 2020
Family man and former World War Two pilot John Cross has died.
A 'devoted family man' who spent the last years of his life in Exmouth's Manor Lodge care home has died.
John Kenneth Cross, who was affectionally known as Jack to most who knew him, passed away on February 16 2020.
Born in Hammersmith, Jack was the last of four brothers and one sister. His early years were at Hammersmith Broadway where his lasting memories were of his first home - gas lit, outside toilet and an old tin bath for weekly shared bath times. His parents did well and they moved to a new house in Southall where he spent most of his childhood.
His generation were in many ways defined by World War Two and when Jack's time came, he chose the RAF and stated that he wanted to be a pilot. He was just 18 at the time.
The RAF sent him to Selwyn College Cambridge in 1942 for aptitude tests before going on to full pilot training. Once he was given his wings he was assigned to overseas duties, and would survive two crashes - one when he was wing man to the squadron leader who misjudged a loop and ploughed into the sea and another when the engine malfunctioned and he crash-landed.
Back to peacetime and Jack worked in Nevilles Bakery, London and also did an evening bar job. He met Dorothy (Dot) his wife and they bought a pub the Queens Arms in Deal, which he ran from 1959 to 1961. After selling up, they purchased The Carlton Sweet Shop in Southsea, which they ran from 1961 to 1972.
In his late 40s, Jack passed his A-levels and obtained a job with HM Customs and Excise during the introduction of VAT.
This was at the time of Portsmouth Ferry port construction and he was one of the first customs officers to start managing the passengers and ensuring compliance with the revenue laws.
In his last years in the service, he became an executive officer and would board navy ships to do customs checks for sailors prior to disembarkation after returning home from deployments overseas.
Dot sadly died in 2005, and Jack would leave Hampshire for Devon, making the move to Exmouth in 2012 to live with his daughter Sue and son-in-law John.
In March 2014, he moved to Manor Lodge Care Home, Exmouth - his final home.
Aged 95, he died as one of the last survivors of the World War Two generation.
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