Dad had four elder sisters, Annie the eldest would have been 17 when he was born, Alice 16, Grace 14 and Lily 11, so he had lots of mothers to help look after him, one of his sisters remembered accidentally sticking a safety pin in him whilst changing his nappy. Dad also had two brothers, Frederick who was exactly seven years older and Norman who was 5 at the time.
One of Dad's earliest memories was playing for hours with his toy cars under the table where he would have his own little town, a bit like his great grandson Julius.
The Second World War began in the September of 1939 when Dad was 11 years old, then a few weeks after Dad's 12th birthday his Father died and then fifteen months later his Mother died of cancer. Dad remembers the day that she died, his aunt Annie was staying to help with the care of his mother and Dad was asked to go to the hospital to pick up his mother’s ration card. During his journey home he passed a clock and can remember looking at the time, twenty minutes to three, and as he looked at the clock the thought entered his head that his mother had died. When he arrived home his Aunt came to the door and confirmed his fear, she had died around the time that he had looked at the clock.Dad was 13 when his mother died, so after the funeral there had been a discussion as to whether he would go to Chesterfield to live with his uncle George or return with his auntie Annie who lived in South Shields, it was decided that he would go with Aunt Annie. Dad finished his schooling in South Shields and then got a job delivering newspapers, but he wasn’t very happy living with his aunt so after a while he decided to travel back to Hull. He arrived back at their house on Southcoates Avenue to find it looking dark and deserted, he stood for awhile outside remembering his mother in the last days of her illness, eventually he knocked on the door of the neighbours and heard that Alice was away and that both Fred and Norman were at sea. The neighbours gave him a key and he let himself in but the house was cold and creepy, he didn’t feel like staying there on his own, so he decided to go round to his sister Lily’s house at 71 Hopkins Street. The streets were by then completely dark because of the blackout and Dad had a large suitcase with him that he had to drag along, but thankfully Lily was home and surprised but pleased to see him.
In the next couple of years Dad had many jobs such as butchers assistant, grocers assistant, builders assistant and a projectionist at the cinema. When he was 16 he got his provisional drivers licence and applied for a job at a laundry. When they asked whether he could drive he replied yes even though he had never driven a car in his life, he was told that he could start on Monday. When he arrived on Monday morning he saw a large van which resembled an ambulance and he was told that an elderly man called Tommy Anderson would be showing him the route. Luckily for Dad Tommy drove first, but around midday he said that Dad could take over. Dad put the shift into first gear and then started jolting down the road like a kangaroo. Eventually he got the hang of it until he had to turn a corner and tried to do this in third gear, he spun round the corner and almost rammed a horse and cart off the road giving both Tommy and the horse a near heart attack. Luckily the roads weren’t very busy in those days and within a short time Dad had learnt to drive and was doing the rounds on his own.
Just before the end of the war the government asked Butlins to take their amusement rides out of storage and to travel around Britain with them to help keep the people away from the coasts and the dangers of sea mines. Dad joined this travelling fair in Hull and travelled for several months around with them working on the dodgem cars and other rides. At the end of the European war he was back in Hull and was able to take part in all the street festivities. He was then offered another job by Butlins, to help get their holiday camp in Filey back in order for the opening of the summer. After a few months he got another job as a Taxi driver in Filey. One evening in August 1945 he went to pick up a young lady at the air force base, when he arrived he was told to go into the mess hall because an important announcement was about to be made. Everyone was listening to the radio, then it was announced that Japan had capitulated and the war was over, it was quiet for a few minutes until it had sunk in and then everyone started clapping and cheering.
Dad worked for a short while longer in Filey and then at the age of 18 he went into the National Service, he spent 6 weeks training in Northern Ireland and then a further 3 months in Cirencester. After his training he was shipped over to Egypt and got very seasick on the way. Dad didn’t enjoy his time in Egypt, it was dirty and hot and you had to watch out for scorpions, but he did learn to speak the language a little, at least he learned to swear in Arabic. Whilst in Egypt he was diagnosed with a mild form of tuberculosis, so he was sent back to Britain to get better.
After spending some time at a sanatorium Dad returned to Hull and decided to go back to school, he enrolled at the Greg School of typing and shorthand. This must have been one of his best decisions because whilst attending this school he met and fell in love with one of the other students, a young girl called Doreen Orwin. Bob and Doreen married on the 25th March 1950 in St. Peter’s Church in Anlaby.