Dennis Johnson

Wartime memories of an unpleasant evacuation.

Evacuation and farming life

During the Second World War, Dennis was evacuated to Tunbridge Wells for a short period of three weeks, before being sent to Dorset where he was billeted with a local farmer.  Whilst in Dorset he worked hard on the farm, receiving no payment in return. He became skilled at milking the cows and ‘got on well with the horse but not with the bull’.

He recalls that the farmer attempted to force Dennis’s brother to work with appendicitis. Subsequently he became very ill and Dennis had to call for help. If he had not done so his brother would not have survived. The farmer was fined £8.

Returning to London

As Dennis returned home doodlebugs and rockets were introduced. As he was aged fourteen he gained employment repairing and replacing damaged window frames as a result of the air raids. Once a week he took up the role as a fire watcher. Due to his young age he was not allowed to assist with the installation of defence metal.

In the closing days of the war there were talks of decorating the streets and organising street parties. Dennis was keen to help and decided to retrieve some bunting from the local pub, closed due to bomb damage, to decorate its front.

‘I had been in the Pub's back garden and Club House before and I knew that there were flags and bunting there...[so] I made my way there. Pulling a loose board aside I squeezed through into the garden and walked up the path to the Club House. But, as I stepped through the Club House door I had one of the biggest shocks of my young life. For standing just inside the doorway was a Police Constable...He said, ‘What are you doing here?’ I told him and lucky for me the bunting and flags were still there. He believed my story...with a warning not to break in to any more properties’.    


Dennis Johnson Memoirs
Dennis Johnson Memoirs (173k)
To read more about Dennis Johnson's wartime memories in his own words please press the link above.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 05/04/2012.