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George Stanley Hornsby was born on 4 February 1900 in Derby to George W, a confectionary commercial traveller, and Ada Hornsby.
Young George seems to have adopted the name Stan in the forces, when he served in the Sherwood Foresters, having enlisted at age of 17 and experiencing machine gun warfare and been involved in signals work. He is on record as being in the Devonshire regiment, a territorial force, in 1919, suggesting that army life suited him.
In 1927, Hornsby married Dorothy Maude Bluck. For a while he lived at 61 Malcolm Street, Derby, and worked as a labourer, being a member of the general and municipal workers’ union, then called the NUGMWU, of which he was said to be a prominent member.
Definitely a member of the Communist Party from 1930, Hornsby may have been a secret dual member of the Labour Party, representing NUGMW on the Central Committee of the Derby Trades and Labour Council as he did.
In 1936, he volunteered to serve in the Spanish war and left London in a convoy as a driver of medical and other supplies which sailed for Dieppe on the 12th of December with a convoy of five ambulances bearing Red Cross signs. Hornsby was said to be accompanied by another Derby man, who did not want to be named, and both were in a party of volunteers from Nottingham that arrived in Spain around the 26th. The vehicles had been funded by an appeal launched by Harry Pollitt.
In action with the British 16th Battalion of the XV International Brigade on the 12 February 1937, he crashed a lorry off road that he was driving when under the influence of alcohol while intoxicated. His load was a cargo of additional machine guns for the 2nd Company, along with replacement ammunition, which was vital for repelling the attacks by Franco’s Moorish troops. The wrong calibre of bullet had been provided and the cargo was so important to the front-line that some men were sent out in the field to find out had become of the lorry, which was got back on the road and up to the front just in time to halt the Moorish advance.
Hornsby was court-martialled and sentenced to death for sabotage. However, on appeal to the Battalion’s Political Commissars, George Aitken and Bert Williams, he was imprisoned instead. Presumably later released, he was in the Battle of Brunete in July 1937, when he was wounded in the left foot by an explosive bullet.
Taken to hospital, he was sent before a Medical Commission to find if he was fit for future action. Although found still fit for duty behind the lines, he was repatriated from Spain on 17th September 1938.
He returned to Derby, residing for part of the time at 6 Denbigh Street, Derby (Portland Street is also mentioned in a press report), and died in 1945.
Sources: Jim Carmody IBMT, Stuart Walsh, Derbyshire Family History Society, findmypast.co.uk