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  Jack Jenner, 1919-2021 New Page 1

Jack was born on Saturday 22nd February 1919 at Kirkley on the outskirts of Lowestoft.  He was one of six siblings and they were all part of a family that over the previous three generations had transitioned from farming to become part of the famous fishing fleet that sailed from Lowestoft.

At the age of four years old, Jack’s family, and his uncle’s family, moved to Town House, a large house beside the river at Thorpe St Andrew that was able to accommodate four adults and twelve children.  His grandfather, John Henry Jenner, was shrewd enough to notice the decline in the fishing industry after the First World War and he decided to set up a Hire Fleet business designed to provide boating holidays on the Broads at Norfolk and Suffolk.  The Jenner family were among the first to hire boats on the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.

Jack’s father, and Jack’s uncle, ran this business on behalf of their father until he died in November 1933 and between them they were able to prosper and give birth to a hugely successful business that went by the name of Jenner’s of Thorpe.  Jack recalls that the business displayed a red pennant flag with the words in white and remembered that the red background was changed to blue on the death of his grandfather.  Their success in the company was interrupted by the declaration of War against Germany on the 1st September 1939 and because of his extensive background in Marine Engineering, Jack was called-up and enlisted into the Army.

These were uncertain times and because he had been dating his sweetheart Elsie prior to enlisting, they decided to marry in December 1939.  Their family would be completed by the arrival of three sons; Michael in April 1942; Trevor in April 1947 and their baby, Timothy, was born in October 1953.

Jack went to Colchester to complete his basic training before being assigned to the 71st Field Company of the Royal Engineers.  He recalled that life in the forces had largely been about drilling, training and simulations, as well as a very welcome promotion to Sergeant.  But all this was about to change on the 6th June 1944 when at 1000hours his Company were part of the D day landings, landing at Queens Beach, Oisterham before being tasked to proceed to Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal.  His company were tasked to complete any repairs to the bridge and to keep it operational, as well as to move forward to other bridges to facilitate the advance of the allied forces. 

Because of his childhood experiences of manoeuvring boats, Sgt Jack Jenner was quickly put in charge of getting the floating pontoons down the river and into position, often under enemy fire from the far bank.  By August, his Company had reached the River Seine at Vernon and they set about erecting a 642foot Bailey Bridge across the river.  They were always under severe enemy fire and as a consequence of his part in this vital operation, he was awarded the Military Medal.  By the time that the civilian population in Britain were celebrating VE day, on the 8th May 1945, Jack and his Company were in the process of building their 22nd bridge since the D day landings, the only change for him was that they were no longer under enemy fire!  In June 2019 Jack was awarded the Legion d’Honneur from the President of France in recognition of the part that he played in the liberation of France. 

It was not until June 1946 that Jack was finally discharged from the Army and was able to return to Thorpe to restart his civilian life…but many things had changed since 1939.

When he joined the Army in Sept. 1939 he had great prospects. His father’s Boat Business was thriving and he was playing a leading role in its development, he had a car, he lived in a grand riverside house and he basically had what could be fairly described as a privileged life with great expectations for the future. The war years changed all of that.

Jack and brother Bill established Jenner Brothers in 1960 on the river Yare at Thorpe St. Andrew as a worthy successor to Jenner’s of Thorpe, they soon released that their chosen identity Jenner Brothers would be confusing in view of the continued existence of Jenner’s of Thorpe, so they changed the name of their yard to Maiden Craft and successfully operated until 1985 when Jack and Bill decided to retire and sell the business.  To quote Jack “We would both consider ourselves very fortunate to have worked at something which would have otherwise been our hobby”

Jack stood down in 1985 as chairman of the Broadland Owners Association after nine years heading the association which represented Hoseasons Holidays. 

Jack was a long-standing member of the Yare Sailing Club.  The Jenner name lives on with The Jenner Trophy competed for in the youth race at the Yare Sailing Club Cantley Autumn Regatta.

 

 

last edited on:  10/11/2021 at 10:17   by: The Editor