John Doughty was born in Margate. He lived in a large house in Price’s Road which doubled up as a boarding house. By his own admission, he was a spoilt child, and attended Drapers Mill School with his future wife. His friends were pretty rough, and they had plenty of punch ups. He was caught once by the police for trying to de-rail a train with coins on the track.
He watched the evacuation of Dunkirk and was aware that Margate was a scary place to be once the war had started. He remembers the day of evacuation as the most traumatic of his life. The journey was long and crowded and when they arrived at Lichfield they were made to stand in an area of concrete where they were examined by a nurse. A blue cross was drawn on the heads of those with nits. He was then put on a coach to Gentleshaw and sat in a room while the locals chose their evacuees. Listen to John talking about how he was last to be chosen by clicking on the following audio clip:
John went to live with Mr. and Mrs McGill and their son. His new way of life with the McGills was completely different to what he was used to. Mr. McGill was a miner and he often came back black from the pit. To wash, he would have a bath in the tub in the kitchen which was new for him, and he thought it was strange that the men in the village got together to play marbles.John had never had picalilli before, and the McGills kept pigs and chickens. Sadly, John was blamed for things going missing in their home, and he was also hit when he was ‘mardy’, a new word for him.
When he was old enough to go to the grammar school, he was moved to Stafford and was billeted first with the Lawtons and then three further homes. He liked the last of these billets the best because his host parent worked at Woolworths and he got lots of sweets. Unfortunately he then proceeded to get ink up the walls so was moved once more. He returned home in 1943-44 when the doodlebugs were still flying overhead.