Thousands of birthday cards sent to 105-year-old WW2 veteran who has no living family or friends

Video report by ITV Granada Reports correspondent Mel Barham.

A Second World War veteran has received more than 4,000 cards from kind-hearted strangers on his 105th birthday.

Ernest Horsfall, who was born in Bradford in 1918 and now lives in Preston, served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a staff sergeant from 1940 to 1946.

He was married for 57 years and had a son and a sister, but sadly no longer has any surviving family members or friends.

After hearing his story, the Royal British Legion started an appeal to collect birthday cards for him - and they were inundated.

Ernest Horsfall (right) served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a staff sergeant from 1940 to 1946.

He has received thousands of cards - including one from the Prime Minister and the King, but he Ernest says he's not sure what all the fuss is about.

He said: "I'm surprised anyone is taking any notice to tell you the truth."

Ernest's friend Terry Cook said: "I hoped we would get 105 cards. That was my hope. Bur we had 500 in the first two days. And then it was 2,000, then 3,000. Now, it's over 4,000.

"They're coming from all over the world. What impresses me is the generosity of spirit, of people wanting to thank him and show their respects to him and all the other veterans of World War Two and those who are no longer with us."

Ernest celebrated his birthday at Blackpool Airport, where he learned to fly planes. Credit: ITV News

To celebrate his birthday, the Royal British Legion presented the cards to Ernest at Blackpool Airport, where he was greeted by a guard of honour.

It was here at the age of 43 he took his first flying lesson - and he was still flying at 93, continuing to work as an aircraft inspector until the age of 101.

When asked if his age affects him, he said: "It has no impression on me whatsoever. I just can't walk anymore!"

Ernest served in London during the blitz before joining the Allied campaign in North Africa, then went to Italy to maintain Allied tanks, directing 23 Italian civilian mechanics.

He has lived through 27 prime ministers and five monarchs.