John Hawkins

Recollections of evacuation to Abbots Langley.

Visiting Germany

John was eight years old when war was declared in September 1939. Before the war his father had been an operator on a ship. He was granted little shore leave. On one occasion John travelled with his father to Hamburg, where he stayed for 8 months. Whilst in Hamburg, John attended a trade fair. Although he was only six years old he recalls seeing Adolf Hitler visiting the event. Despite this John was not aware of the build up to war.

Evacuation to Abbots Langley

During the war John was evacuated to Abbots Langley with a Baptist preparatory school, where the majority of children were expected to attend church twice a day. He was based at a boarding school for boys and had lessons every afternoon. Many of the boys who also attended had parents who were from European countries on the side of the Allies. John recalls receiving a 1lb tub of Bovril from his mother, who obtained it from her sister who had married a pharmacist. The tub was priced at 12/- 6d – although John tried to put some of it down the toilet he ended up having to eat the majority of it.

In hospital

John developed rheumatoid arthritis during the war years and was in hospital when the war ended. He was due to be discharged before VJ Day but suffered from tooth abscesses – he assured the doctor he would visit the dentist once he had left hospital but collapsed and was readmitted.  The tooth was removed but John developed septicaemia. Fortunately, as the war was in its closing stages, penicillin had just become available for civilian use and John was administered daily injections. 

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 23/04/2012.