The ultimate sacrifice ' />
by Anne-Marie Emerson firstname.lastname@example.org
The ultimate sacrifice of a young Wanganui man during World War II is still remembered in Northern Ireland 64 years after his death.
John Samuel Hornby, a former Wanganui Collegiate pupil, died when the Supermarine Seafire 3 he was flying during a training exercise crashed near Carrickmore in Northern Ireland.
He died on October 10, 1945 - the day after his 21st birthday.
John Hornby's story apparently ended there; but in 1995 his grave attracted the attention of two Irish aviation historians, Gary McFarland and Robin Ruddock.
Mr McFarland said he particularly noticed Sub-Lieutenant Hornby's grave because the young New Zealander had died just a few weeks after Japan formally surrendered.
"Without doubt he would have been returned home to New Zealand to be demobbed in the near future, had he lived."
Mr McFarland and Mr Ruddock contacted Richard Bourne, from the Wanganui Collegiate School Museum, who was able to supply the two Irishmen with photos and further information about John Hornby.
Mr Ruddock travelled to Carrickmore and met with people who had seen John Hornby's plane crash.
They had even kept some of the plane's wreckage, including a piece with the aircraft's serial number stamped onto it. From this Mr Ruddock was able to confirm the plane was John Hornby's.
Mr Ruddock and Mr McFarland were so grateful for Collegiate Museum's assistance, that they gave the school a 1:48 model of a Supermarine Seafire 3 - made by Mr Ruddock from a piece of the fuselage from John Hornby's aircraft.
The model plane arrived in Wanganui in November 2008 and is now on display in a special cabinet at the Collegiate Museum.
"I think John Hornby would be very proud to learn that his former school has remembered him in such a way," Mr McFarland said.
The two historians have put a temporary memorial to John Hornby in the field where he died, and plan to erect a permanent memorial in the same spot.
But there was another twist yet to come in John Hornby's story.
In January of this year Mr McFarland contacted Mr Bourne requesting any possible information on another Wanganui man, who was buried in the same graveyard at John Hornby.
JH Anderson had been killed in 1941 at the same airfield as John Hornby.
Mr Bourne discovered that not only was JH Anderson also a Collegiate old boy, he was John Hornby's second cousin.
"What are the odds of two related young men from the same school dying in similar circumstances at the same airfield four years apart?" Mr Bourne said.
Mr Bourne said Collegiate was grateful to Mr McFarland and Mr Ruddock for their efforts in preserving John Hornby's memory.
"I think it is wonderful that there are those from a younger generation who still recognise the huge sacrifice made by young men who died so far from home in the service of their country.
"It is thanks to people like Gary McFarland and Robin Ruddock that their graves are tended, and the young men who gave their tomorrows for our today are remembered."