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George Formby A Great Troop Entertainer

15 Oct

When I was growing up in the 1940’s, our local cinema on Walney Island which is now demolished showed many films. The films that my age group and above liked to see were the ones George Formby appeared in. To any younger person who is reading this, might say who the hell George Formby is?
Well George Formby was born in 1905 and followed his father into the music hall scene and became one of the most popular British entertainers of the 20th Century. His career as a comedian, actor, singer and songwriter lasted for 40 years until his death in 1961. He appeared in many hit films, made over 230 records. During the Second World War he came to the fore in keeping the British people’s spirits high. George travelled widely throughout Europe the Middle East and the Far East. With his ukulele in hand he sang songs and told jokes as he entertained over the war years an estimated three million allied servicemen. Quite often George performed very near to the front line, particularly when he was in Burma. When George was not entertaining troops or making films. He was a corporal dispatch rider with the Blackpool home Guard. His contribution to the war effort won official recognition in the form of medals from two countries. The first nation to honour George Formby was the Soviet Union, where he was remarkably popular; in 1943 the Soviet government awarded Formby the Order of Lenin. Great Britain honoured him at the end of the war, when Formby was awarded an OBE (Officer of the order of the British Empire). George Formby should have been knighted for the sterling work he did in lifting moral in Britain’s darkest days
After the war George continued his career in show business, but the war and the travelling he did, had took a lot out of George Formby’s health; He suffered from heart attacks and finally died on the 6th March, 1961, at the age of 56. His funeral took place at St Charles Roman Catholic Church, Liverpool. An estimated 100,000 mourners turned out to see the funeral cortege as it travelled the 20 miles from Liverpool to Warrington, Cheshire, where George was interned in the Formby family grave at the Manchester Road Cemetery. I am sure many men who fought in the Second World War will have happy memories of George Formby. A man who tried and did put a smile on their faces, when a smile was most needed. George Formby was indeed a great troop entertainer.


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