Jack Hawker

Recollections of evacuation.

Evacuation to Paddock Wood

Jack was a nine year old boy at Bostall Lane School when he left for evacuation just days before war broke out. He took the train from Plumstead Station and then boarded a coach before arriving at Fowle Hall near Paddock Wood. As the last one off the coach, Jack was allocated the worst billet – he was flea ridden and had to stay with a man and woman who later became residents of a mental institution. Whilst under their supervision Jack was not fed and so when his ration bag of cornflakes, biscuits and corned beef had ran out he had to survive on snacks from the local pub until being rescued a month later.

Whilst at the local village school, a teacher noticed Jack’s hair was ridden with lice. This meant that Jack was moved to the home of a local Waggoner and his wife; who were aptly named the Godley’s. When he arrived Mrs Godley took him to the washhouse where his underclothes were burnt in fire copper and he was doused in lamp oil whilst bathing. After this ordeal the Godleys were good to Jack as they fed him well throughout the severe winter of 1940.

Returning to London

By the spring of 1940 Mrs Godley had too great a commitment to working in the fields to be able to provide for Jack and so he returned to London in time for the cramped nights in the Anderson shelters during the air raids. Jack’s father was an air raid warden throughout the war meaning that he was on the receiving end of extensive enemy action although his only weapons were his stirrup pump, incendiary bomb scoop and his straight left – which had to be used when a neighbour turned nasty after being reproved for shining a light during an air raid.

Evacuation once more

Jack was evacuated twice more, the first being with his extended family whilst the second was on a farm working full-time as the village school was overcrowded. When Jack returned home again he was fourteen and in August 1944 he started work as a messenger in R.O.F Woolwich Danger Buildings. Jack then moved on to join the Post Office where he rose to Technical Officer before the end of the war.

Wartime education

The wartime education system was not good to Jack with his relatives taking up the role of educators, although living in the countryside he picked up the basic principles of how to exist and provide for others.

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Jack Hawker
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To read more about Jack's wartime experiences in his own words please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 25/06/2012.

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