Lt-Gen Sir Brian Horrocks (1895-1985)


The prominent WWII general Brian Horrocks, commander of XXX Corps at Arnhem, retired from the army after the war as a result of wounds received during the earlier Tunisian campaign. Described by Eisenhower as “the outstanding British general under Montgomery,” he was Black Rod in the House of Lords 1949-63, writer of military histories, and more widely known for presenting several TV war documentaries.


In wartime, General Montgomery used to refer to him as “Jorrocks,” a nod to the good-natured sporty character in R S Surtees’ Victorian stories. He was similarly known for his affability in Emsworth where, having become a keen sailor, he had a weekend cottage on the Millpond seawall from 1956.


“At the age of 61, I attended with my wife [Nancy] a course in small boat sailing, first at Bosham, then at the Emsworth Sailing School. Thus we found something which occupied all our spare time most happily. I only wished I had taken it up many years before.


“During the lovely summer of 1959, day after day, I sat at the window of our cottage in Emsworth writing the first edition of this book [1960], while the sun shone down outside and in front of me lay the wide expanse of Chichester Harbour, stretching away to Hayling Island, covered with white, blue and yellow sails. I could see my own boat, a 16-ft Emsworth One design, bobbing about at her moorings. In the early morning, when there was nobody about except the odd cruising boat, taking advantage of the favourable tide, my wife would go off alone in her Gull dinghy for a sail, at what she said was by far the best time of the day. Eventually I could stand it no more. I stepped on board, cocked an eye at the weather, felt the wind and cast off.


My little craft turned and headed out into the wider waters of the Harbour. The irritations and frustrations slipped away. The only things that mattered were the pulse of the restless sea coming to me through the tiller, and the chuckle and talk of the water against the sides of the boat.


The enchantment lasted until the westering sun sent me reluctantly, in golden twilight or story sunset, back to the shore and the seaward end of the lane [Bath Road] which leads to every day.


We gradually acquired a larger keel boat which we named Ilona, after our granddaughter. It was paid for by the proceeds of the first edition of this book, and in it we were able to go further afield.


On moving to Somerset we transferred our aquatic activities to Poole Harbour. For eleven years this sailing enchantment has lasted, but now, alas, I am getting too old [79], and my last boat was sold in 1972.”


A Full Life by Brian Horrocks (new edition 1974)