Houghton, Huntingdonshire

With my brother Malcolm and our very patient wives we returned to Houghton where in 1944 we stayed for a short time after leaving Heston, Middlesex and the V1s (flying bombs) and V2s (ballistic missiles) falling there. I remembered the mill (where Clive Sinclair’s career got going with development of the first electronic calculator and now a National Trust property) because that’s where I first went fishing – with a bent pin as a hook.
Mum and Dad rented Orchard Cottage (photo). At the time it was split into two, we lived on the left, and it had a large unruly back garden where the ivy covered brick-built outside loo was situated. The other half of the cottage was uninhabited.
Things change. 28/09/2007, after development, Orchard Cottage sold for £737,000.

My father was one of them.

Between 27 May and 4 June 1940, 338,226 soldiers were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk in France. My father, Fred, was one of them.

Dad told us that he put his soaking wet boots up against the hot funnel of the ship that rescued him – only to awake with a start some time later thinking that his feet were on fire. He could never bring himself to tell us about the horrors that he and the others endured during the preceeding retreat and the eventual evacuation.

Once home Dad spent a year in hospital with shell shock before being registered as unfit for service. A reservist, he’d been recalled in October 1937. I’ve never thought about it before but realise now that I probably had only fleeting glimpses of him in the first three years of my life. At least I did get to meet him. Many others never got to know their fathers.