John Bennett

Recollections of relocating and experiencing the war in the country.

Becoming itinerant

John Bennett lived with his family in Watford at the outbreak of war. His father owned a business in the area but when he was called up to the Army, the situation changed. With his father away the business could not be carried on and the family, John recalls, ‘became itinerant. We lived at Southall, we lived at Oxted and eventually we lived at Warlingham in Surrey’. Arriving in Warlingham around 1942, the family had escaped most of the Blitz.

Digging up incendiary bombs

Although away from the immediate dangers of war John recalls the constant presence of the war: ‘Being a country boy then, I mean, we used to wander through the woods and we would come across buildings that were never there before, brick buildings and there used to be two or three RAF personnel in there. God knows what they were doing. But they used to chase us off’. A perhaps more dangerous undertaking, was finding holes made by incendiary bombs in the woods and digging the bombs up. John recalls, ‘I became quite the expert on incendiary bombs’.  

'We didn't think of anybody dying'

Collecting shrapnel and other wartime souvenirs was also part of John’s childhood enjoyments. But as a child the dangers and cruelty of war was not always understood. ‘I always remember that an American Thunderbolt crashed, probably about four miles from home, and we all descended on it to pick up the pieces. We didn’t think of anybody dying in it’.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 08/06/2012.