Dick Hughes

The beginning of the war

Dick Hughes talks about his experiences of the early part of the war.

Air raids

Dick Hughes talks about air raids.

The fatalities of war

Dick Hughes recalls how the fatalities of war were brought home to the evacuated boys.

Recollections of childhood memories of air raids and evacuation.

In September 1939 Dick Hughes was seven years old. Whilst he did not understand the significance of Chamberlain’s announcement, he was aware of the preparations which were being made – the sticky tapes and wooden shutters placed across the windows of his house, and the issuing of gas masks, which he was expected to carry at all times and had to practice wearing.

The transformation of a quiet village

Dick lived with his family in Petersham – prior to the war years it was a quiet village. This changed with the arrival of the Army – initially based in Richmond Park they requisitioned many of the available houses in Petersham. In addition one of the local churches was utilised as an Army Radar School. As a child he found this very exciting.

'Hot and humid with tension in the air'

Overall, between 1940 and 1944 approximately 25 bombs fell in the Petersham. As a child, Dick felt very excited during air raids and often collected shrapnel. As the Hughes family did not have a garden they installed a Morrison shelter under the dining table. As his father was on duty during raids, his mother felt lonely and so she took him to the local public shelter where conditions were ‘hot and humid with tension in the air’.

Evacuation

In September 1940 he was evacuated with his mother to a small village, close to Aberystwyth, Wales. They rented a cottage with the Reed family, who were also from Petersham, and who had already moved to the area. Initially the arrangements were satisfactory but became increasingly difficult due to the severe winter weather – rainstorms and snow caused flooding and disruption to the cottage’s water supply. The Reeds moved to Capel Bangor and Dick’s mother secured a tenancy for a farm house in the village of Old Goginan, which they shared with the Wyatt family and a tenant farmer. Dick has fond memories of exploring the area with the farmers – he learnt a great deal about both arable farming and livestock, and often went fishing and bird watching.  

As the raids in Petersham became less frequent, and his father increasingly lonely, Dick returned home with his mother in July 1941, and recalls feeling ‘overjoyed to see a red double-decker bus again.’

Downloads

Dick Hughes
Dick Hughes (74k)
To read more about Dick's wartime experiences in his own words please press the above link.

Interview with Dick Hughes
Interview with Dick Hughes (169k)
To read the full transcript of Dick's interview please press the above link.

The beginning of the war
The beginning of the war (94k)
Transcript of audio clip with Dick Hughes.

Air raids
Air raids (94k)
Transcript of audio clip with Dick Hughes.

The fatalities of war
The fatalities of war (44k)
Transcript of audio clip with Dick Hughes.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 27/01/2012.

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