John, a veteran participating in IWM's We Were There programme
IWM

9 Questions...

  • Where do you call home?

    Royston, Hertfordshire.

  • What conflict(s) do you discuss when volunteering for We Were There?

    Second World War.

  • How were you involved in that conflict?

    I was a boy living in North Finchley, London for the whole of the Second World War, except for about 3 months when the V1’s flying bombs came over our house. My father decided that it was too dangerous to stay in our house.

  • How long have you been volunteering for WWT?

    Since the programme began.

  • What do you enjoy most about participating in WWT?

    The interaction with children. It is difficult to let them know how much danger we were in, but they always ask intelligent questions and are very interested in my childhood during the war.

  • Tell us your favourite moment so far during the sessions?

    When the children are asked to decide whether some questions about the veterans are true or false. It is great fun, and we get some surprising answers!

  • What’s your favourite object in IWM’s collections and why?

    The Hurricane aircraft on display in hangar 4 at IWM Duxford. This was much underrated by everyone, compared to the more glamourous Spitfire. The Hurricane was partly made of wood, covered with Irish linen, and featured piano wire to control the flaps. It shot down more enemy aircraft than all the other British aircraft combined.

  • What do you like to do in your spare time?

    I belong to the U3A (University of the Third Age), and attend the current affairs and quiz afternoon sessions. I am also asked to go to various societies, clubs etc. to give my talk about my childhood during in the war. I also keep our family company’s accounting records.

  • What is your favourite biscuit?

    Plain digestive (what a strange question!).

Volunteers help bring to life the stories of our collections. Find out more. 

Discover More

Girls from St George's Church of England School in Battersea, London, take part in an open-air sewing class, by the edge of a river or lake, whilst evacuated to Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1940.
© IWM (D 989)
Second World War
How Children's Lives Changed During The Second World War
The Second World War brought many changes to the lives of children in Britain. For some, the war was a time of fear and confusion that meant separation from families, the destruction of a home or even the loss of a parent. However, for others, these years were the most exciting and happiest time of their lives.
Remains of the 600-year-old St Michael's Cathedral two days after the devastating air raid on Coventry on 14-15 November 1940
© IWM (H 5603)
Second World War
The Blitz Around Britain
The 'Blitz' – from the German term Blitzkrieg ('lightning war') – was the sustained campaign of aerial bombing attacks on British towns and cities carried out by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) from September 1940 until May 1941.
The War Effort: Dredge corn, a mixture of oats and barley used for stock feeding, being harvested. The harvest is taking place on 'derelict lands' put under cultivation by the Devon War Agricultural Executive Committee at Ralph Hoare's farm at Staverton, Devon.
Home front
10 Photos Of Life On The Home Front During The Second World War
Everyone in Britain was affected in some way by the Second World War. Those that didn't see action abroad still faced the realities of war on the home front. 

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A Balloon Site, Coventry
© IWM (ART LD 2750)
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An interwar Earl Haig Fund 'Remembrance Day' poppy
© IWM (EPH 2313)
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