James Hayward

Photo:James Hayward pictured with his father dressed in Home Guard uniform.

James Hayward pictured with his father dressed in Home Guard uniform.

James Hayward

'Things could have been totally different'

James Hayward recalls how a saucepan saved his dad's life.

Excitements of war

James Hayward talks about the excitements presented by war.

The end of war

James Hayward recalls how life changed at the end of the war.

Recollections of wartime excitement experienced by a young boy.

'Things could have been totally different’

Although James was only eighteen months old at the outbreak of war, certain aspects of the war have left deep imprints on his memory. Throughout the war James was living with his family in Orpington. His most vivid memories are of air raids. He remembers one incident particularly:  

‘We’d got an Anderson air raid shelter and we went down there and...I can never find out why we left the air raid shelter and came back into the house. But we did...and we actually put saucepans on our heads and we’d almost got indoors when suddenly there was a clunk and something had hit the saucepan that was on my dad’s head... [But] we didn’t waste time, we went indoors and the next morning, came out...and near down by where we got in there was a piece of shrapnel. Now had my dad not, or any of us...had these saucepans coming from the air raid shelter indoors things could have been totally different.’

The excitements of war

Being only a young boy James did not fully understand the severity of the war at the time. Rather at such a tender age, to James it was ‘all a game. It was all excitement, you know, there’s...no sort of sense of fear or anything’. James recalls his fascination the first time he saw a V1 rocket:

‘[There] was this little dark shape and I thought, ‘Wow’, and the flames coming out the exhaustion and I’m standing there thoroughly enthralled by this and suddenly...mum grabbed me by the hand, rushes indoors and we got...in the cupboard under the stairs and I’m thinking, ‘What are we doing under here?’, you know, and, obviously, mum obviously knew about these things and what seemed like an eternity but it obviously wasn’t and then mum said, ‘Alright, we can come out now’ and we went out.’

A newfound freedom

At the end of the war James experienced a newfound freedom:

‘You got no blackouts, no ‘Draw those curtains!’, you know, that ‘Don’t go and play down there!’ There’s a change completely, you see, you could then go and leave the curtains open...it wouldn’t matter about the lights being on or anything like. You could run off down the road and no worries about anything like that. In that way you got freedom back if you like, although freedom wasn’t really taken away as such but you got that extra freedom...and you could go and do the things that you couldn’t do during the war.’

Downloads

Interview with James Hayward
Interview with James Hayward (173k)
To read the full transcript of James's interview please press the above link.

'Things could have been totally different'
'Things could have been totally different' (42k)
Transcript of audio clip with James Hayward.

Excitements of war
Excitements of war (43k)
Transcript of audio clip with James Hayward.

The end of war
The end of war (31k)
Transcript of audio clip with James Hayward.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 28/02/2012.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.