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Growing Up In The 1930's And 40's

By Gordon Axten

About The Author


Gordon Axten has been a local figure in the villages around Little Haywood for most of his long life. Since I first moved into the area when I was about 12 years old I can remember seeing him walking everywhere, for miles sometimes, between local towns. In my memories he has never changed and grown old and he is still very sprightly even though he is now over 80 years old.

For decades he has played darts in local pubs and for a number of years he played in a team that I ran. It is well known how many children he had and there is no doubt that he has had a very full a life. He is well liked and nobody would ever have a reason to say an unkind word about him.

For several years now I have been an aspiring author with a number of articles published in local newspapers and several unpublished books to my name. After reading my parents “War Time Memoirs” Gordon decided that he would like to tell his tale of a life spent on the railways. I suggested that he write it in his own words and I would type it up and help with the editing. We did this and “A Bygone Life On The Railways” was the result. More recently he said that he would like to tell about his earlier years. So he wrote his tale down and the following book is that tale.


Alan Hartley.



The story opens with Gordon recounting his very early years as a young child who was well cared for despite the severe hardships that faced his family. He vividly describes a world far in the past and a way of life long gone where hungry children would resort to picking berries and eating any other food that they could find to supplement their meagre diet.

School he found was not an exciting place where the wonders of the world would be explained but merely somewhere to go to learn to read and write. His home life was very basic with no luxuries and money was in very short supply in part because his father had left home to go and live in London. Some of his memories are of more pleasant things from a past world such as the “Flying Circus,” the Airships and “Bower Day.”

As he started to grow older Gordon goes on to recount his first jobs including working at a newly built air base that was built for the onset of the Second World War. More hardship followed with rationing and air raids. As the war progressed Gordon obtained a new job at a railway station in Lichfield. It was while working here that he received his call up papers. He did return to life on the railways after the war was over but that story is told in his other book entitled “A Bygone Life On The Railways.”

The rest of the book tells of his training at a Shrewsbury army camp and the exercises he went on in the south of England. He was sent overseas to Normandy and it was there that he really started to grow up after seeing some of the horrors of war. Gordon was severely injured but luckily he received the necessary care and treatment and was shipped back to recover from his injuries in Scotland. Finally he was invalided out of the army and returned home to his mother as a mature young man before the war had finished.