Interview with Ken Hayton


Interview with Ken Hayton


Ken Hayton’s father, George Stanley Hayton (Stan), worked worked for Lloyds Bank. In 1940 Stan left his post to join the Royal Air Force; Ken recalled going to Durham station to see his father off, travelling to start basic training at RAF Padgate. Ken believes his father completed his training as a fitter armourer at RAF Lytham before joining 97 Squadron at RAF Woodhall Spa. When 617 Squadron replaced 97 Squadron, Ken remained and was involved in bombing up 617 Squadron aircraft ahead of the Dambuster operation. Stan was sent to help with the clear up of a Lancaster crash on land near a bomb dump and for the rest of his life he could not stand the smell of lamb being cooked. Towards the end of the war Stan was posted to RAF Riccall where he prepared redundant .303 browning aircraft guns for storage, he was finally demobbed from RAF Waddington in 1945 and returned to Lloyds Bank where he remained until retirement. After the war Stan trained for his private pilot license at Newcastle Aero Club and took both Ken and his mother flying in the club’s Tiger Moth.

Ken describes his schoolboy life in Durham, including leaving the Anderson Shelter one evening and watching searchlights scanning the sky over Sunderland. One bombing on Durham was shortly after Coventry had been bombed: the mist rose from the river and shrouded the city, with local folklore being St Cuthbert protecting the Cathedral. During his father’s service at RAF Woodhall Spa, Ken recalled travelling there with his mother from Durham by train and seeing extensive bomb damage to York railway station. Ken served three years in the RAF, posted to RAF Insworth a non-flying RAF station where the RAF Records Section was based, transferring to the Coronation Unit for training ahead of the ceremony in 1953. He recalled route lining in the Haymarket, due to the narrowing of the road he was very close to the Queen’s coach and in the evening went to Buckingham Palace and assisted the police with crowd control. Ken recalls watching The Dambusters film with his father in 1955 and his father commenting on the accuracy of the film.




Temporal Coverage




00:59:30 audio recording


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JS: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is Joyce Sharland. The interviewee is Ken Hayton. The interview is taking place at Mr Hayton’s home in Andover on the 17th of October 2017.
KH: Yes.
JS: Right. So, Mr Hayton, can you tell me about your father?
KH: My father was George Stanley Hayton. Always known as Stan. And before the war he was employed by Lloyds Bank. He was born in Durham City in two thousand and err now then let me get this right [pause] in 1912, and lived in the city all his life until his death in 1971. In, around about the early time, early days of 1940 he was given permission by the bank to join the Royal Air Force as a volunteer. Which he did. And I know that he did join as a volunteer because initially his uniform had the letters VR under the albatross on his shoulder flashes. It would be 1940 that he joined up because I have recollections as a small boy of going to Durham Station to see him off. I believe his initial training took place at RAF Padgate. And then after that was completed he went on to his trade training as a fitter armourer which I think took place at Lytham St Anne’s. I’m not sure about that but I think that’s where he went. Once that was completed he was posted to Bomber Command into 97 Squadron which was based at RAF Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire. A satellite unit to RAF Coningsby. And he remained there right throughout the war or almost to the end of the war. And towards the end of the war he was posted to RAF Riccall in Yorkshire where he was involved in preparing all the redundant 303 Browning aircraft guns for storage in case they were ever needed to be called back into service. He was demobbed from RAF Waddington in around about the latter part of 1945. I do believe that he was offered a commission if he was prepared to stay in the Royal Air Force but his duty he felt was to the bank who had released him early. So he then was demobbed and joined Lloyds bank where he remained employed until he retired after having served forty years. During his service at Woodhall Spa he was involved in bombing up Lancasters for raids over the occupied territories and when 617 Squadron was due to take, take-off for the Dams raid 97 Squadron was moved back to the parent unit at Coningsby and 617 Squadron came in to Woodhall Spa. I can only think that that was done from a security point of view because it would be much easier to maintain security on a single Squadron station like Woodhall, rather than on the main base of 617 Squadron which was of course RAF Scampton. My father was involved in the bombing up of 617 Squadron for the Dams raid. And I only learned about this when after the war and the production of the film, “The Dambusters,” my father and I went to see it at the cinema in Durham. And on the way home we were discussing various things in the film and it came out that my dad had been involved with 617 Squadron. And when I asked him about the parts of the film which showed the aftermath of the raid on the countryside I said I wondered if that was anything like what had actually had happened and whether the filmers had got it anything accurate. And he said, ‘Yes. It was just like that.’ And immediately after that he said, ‘But don’t tell your mother I said that.’ I can only think that that comment was made because he had been taken over the Dams in one of the Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft which did the photo reconnaissance after the Dams raid. I’ve no proof of that but I can’t see any other reason for the comment which he made except that he was there. He had been very much involved in the bombing up of the aircraft and this I think was why he wanted to go and see the film because neither he nor I were great film goers. When he was at Woodhall there was an incident at a bomb dump near Snaith which is not too far away from Coningsby and Woodhall when a Lancaster came down on the edge of the bomb dump and my dad was involved in the clearing up operations. And I think that had an effect on him because we never ever had chops as a meat meal and he could never stand the smell of lamb being cooked. No other reason that I can think of for that reaction other than the involvement that he’d had in clearing up what obviously must have been carnage with the Lancaster coming down on the, on the edge of the bomb dump. At one time during the war my mother and my sister and myself went down to Woodhall Spa because my dad couldn’t get any leave. It was during a high pressure time I think of bombing raids and he wanted a pushbike. And being the elder of the two children I was given the responsibility of looking after the bike. I can remember feeling quite proud that I’d been given the responsibility of taking care of this bike all the way down from Durham to Woodhall Spa. During that journey we passed through York Station not long after it had been blitzed by the Luftwaffe and it really was in a very bad state on one side of the station. Of course the Luftwaffe went for York because it was a main railway junction during the war and if they could have disrupted the railways it would have had a marked effect on our war effort. The other effect I think that I learned about with on the family was when my father came home on the odd occasion that he could get home on leave he always changed out of uniform into civvies before he saw my sister because my sister was younger than I was and she thought that the RAF was a sort of box that my father was locked up in and the uniform always brought that home to her. But we can only think that that was one of the reasons that dad always got changed as soon as he came home. There was not a lot of other effect on us as a family except that once my father had joined up we moved out of the council house and went to live with my maternal grandparents in the city which overlooked the river and the Cathedral. And just thinking about that period in the early days of the war Durham City is what might be regarded at the centre of a hub of a wheel with the perimeter being on the three main rivers. The Tyne, the Wear and the Tees with the shipyards in Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. And at the beginning of the war we used to get all the air raid warnings if enemy aircraft were coming in for any of those three places. But we never had anything over the city. And eventually we stopped getting air raid warnings unless the aircraft were heading inland. So we were very, very fortunate. Not so my wife who was a Sunderland girl and she lived through the various Blitzes in Sunderland and it had obviously an effect on her as a young girl. Much more so. And I didn’t realise until after we were married and we were talking about things that had happened during the war how fortunate we had been as a family because my maternal grandfather was a great gardener and had allotments which provided vegetables. And we also had an orchard at the back of the, at the back of the house so that we always had fruit. And he kept chickens in the orchard so we always had meat. And it made me realise, talking to my wife just how lucky we had been having all those facilities when I heard of the sort of things that she had had to put up with in Sunderland. So, you know there were many things that happened during the war which folks don’t realise. I mean that was only a distance of twelve miles between Durham City and Sunderland and yet such a difference in the effect on families that lived in, in those two places. My maternal grandfather had been a forge smith in Yorkshire and at the beginning of the First World War he was sent up to Durham to work in the forge there. And they sent him away from Yorkshire because the recruiting officers were fed up with him trying to join the forces and told him he was much more valuable making the armaments for the forces rather than him going out into Europe. So that was how the family from Yorkshire came to be based in Durham city and how my parents met. Because my paternal grandfather was trained as a pharmaceutical chemist and during the First World War he was stationed in Mesopotamia. I think as part of the Northumberland Fusiliers. But I’m not certain about that. He eventually moved into the motor trade and that was how I knew him all my life. The effect, I think on my mother wasn’t anything that I ever knew about or thought about. She had started training as a teacher before the war and of course like all women had to do something and once my sister got to school age she went back to teaching. So as a family we were still a fairly compact unit. Whilst we were living with my grandparents as I say we were in a house that overlooked the river and the Cathedral. And there has been for many many years the knowledge that if ever the Durham Cathedral were to come under attack for any reason whatsoever St Cuthbert who the Cathedral is dedicated to and who is buried in the Cathedral would save it. And of course Von Ribbentrop was determined to obliterate all the main Cathedrals in the United Kingdom if he could. And shortly after the raid which destroyed Coventry Cathedral we had an air raid warning in Durham and that was as I say by this time quite unusual. So we were due to go down into the cellar of the house which was our air raid shelter but looking out of the window there was the mist rising off the river. And of course the river is an ox bow around the central peninsula of the city on which stands the Cathedral and the castle. So this mist rose off the river and it’s always been said that that was St Cuthbert’s way of protecting the Cathedral. And certainly that mist blanketed the whole of the city and we could hear the German aircraft over the top of the city. It was definitely German aircraft because their engines weren’t synchronised like the English or British aircraft engines were. And they were over the, overhead going around and around. Nothing happened and eventually they flew off. The all clear went. And as the all clear went the mist descended back to the river. And I can vouch for that because as a youngster I saw it out of the windows of our house. My grandparent’s house. And it’s made a lasting impression as you can probably gather. I really don’t know that there’s much else that I can say apart from the fact that my own Royal Air Force service which was three years as a regular and two and a half years on the reserve and during that time the one thing that I was very proud to wear was my father’s cap badge. Sadly, I no longer have that. I have my own cap badge but I think my father’s cap badge must have gone back with my uniform when I had to return it to RAF Fenton which was my call up base when my two and a half years reserve service was ended. The only other thing of my father’s which I have apart from his ‘39 ‘45 Star and Defence Medal is a piece of metalwork which I know was part of one of his trade tests in which I think was part of the bomb release mechanism for a Lancaster. I can’t be sure about that but the trade test would be taken after he’d started working on Lancasters so I think it’s a fair assumption that that’s probably what it is. I don’t know that there’s much else that I can say.
JS: You said you recall going to the station to see your father off.
KH: Yeah.
JS: How old were you then?
KH: I’d be about seven.
JS: About seven. And you went with your mother and your sister?
KH: I don’t think my sister went. My sister would only be about three. Three and a half and so I don’t think she went. She would probably stay with my grandparents. But I, I can certainly recall going to the, going to the station in Durham and seeing, seeing dad off on the train. Little bits of things like that they do stick in your memory and you know it’s a bit like the [pause] the memories of the 9 o’clock news during the war. Alright, as a youngster you don’t appreciate everything that is being said but the things that stick in my mind are Big Ben, and my grandparents sitting in the lounge and everybody being quiet and listening to the news. It was a nightly ritual and you know its little things like that which, you know I think need to be kept in mind. And I think future generations need to know how important it was to us at home to know what was going on. And the only way we could get recent, decent reliable news was the BBC. And you know it was important to everyone I think and I’m quite certain that my family weren’t any different from countless other families throughout the country. At 9 o’clock every night the wireless was turned on and we had the news. There wasn’t all the current news from the battlefield and all the rest of it and I think it’s perhaps just as well. I think we get too much of this instantaneous news now and it doesn’t give people time to digest really what’s happening. Yeah. Instant gratification in a different form. Perhaps I’m being old fashioned.
JS: Did, as far as you’re aware did your mother ever receive letters from your father. Was he able? Could he write letters? Could he communicate? Make phone calls perhaps. Do you ever recall him making contact when he was away?
KH: I don’t recall any phone calls. I don’t think, in fact I don’t think we had a phone in the house so that wouldn’t have been possible. Letters I think possibly he did get able, he was able to send. I mean as he was based in this country I don’t think there was any problem in that respect. But it didn’t sort of register on me as a, as a youngster. I mean that’s not something that I would have been aware of I don’t think. The only things that I was aware of were, you know the pleasure of having him come home on leave on the occasions when he could get home. And as I say the occasion when we went down to Woodhall Spa and it would be during my school summer holidays. And the one, the one thing apart from the pushbike being my responsibility the one thing that I can remember of that little holiday from our point of view was seeing a Lancaster loop the loop. Which was totally out of order. And I believe talking to my father afterwards that that particular exercise had such a damaging affect on the airframe of the aircraft that it was written off and I believe the pilot was severely disciplined because obviously you don’t write off expensive aircraft. But it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t have happened but I can remember seeing it and was quite surprised. It was just one of those little things that come back to mind as you, as you think about what, what happened. And another thing that has just come back to my mind thinking about that was at the beginning of the war just after my father had joined up and before we moved in with my grandparents I can remember being taken into the shelter in the garden when there was an air raid warning and looking up into the night sky and seeing searchlights over towards Sunderland and seeing what was obviously an aerial dogfight because you could even at a distance of twelve miles you could see the tracer. And that, that’s something which has just come back to me since talking about seeing the Lancaster. We shouldn’t have been out of the shelter but, you know youngsters do things that they shouldn’t do even, even in wartime. Yeah.
JS: So, did life for you as a young lad, did it more or less go on as normal? You were going to school. You were helping around the house presumably, were you? Were any of your friends lives touched in a bad way by the war? Did any of them lose close relatives.
KH: No. Not that I can say. I mean, as youngsters we didn’t sort of discuss the, we didn’t discuss the war. It was something that was going on and we had the black out and there was no possibility of after school work or sports clubs or anything like that. They were all off limits. When school was over you went. You went home and you stayed at home. You couldn’t go and play out. Which we could once the war was over. But we didn’t [pause] I can’t recall sort of discussing or talking about the war as a youngster at school. Not even when I got to Grammar School just towards the end of the war. The only thing that was noticeable when I got to Grammar School was the fact that there were quite a number of older teachers there who had obviously stayed on beyond retirement because the young teachers had gone into the forces. And I was made well aware of that because both my, my uncle and my father had gone to the same Grammar School and some of the teachers that taught them taught me. Which was sometimes a little embarrassing because on occasions, I can remember one particular occasion in the physics laboratory when I’d been assisting in dealing with some electrical experiment which had a series of plug keys connecting wires up and one thing and another. And that master was one of the masters who had taught my father. And in operating one of these plug keys I’d managed to disconnect some of the, some of the wires. And the master just looked at me and just sort of tut tutted and said, ‘Your father would never have done that.’ Which you know, it was a little embarrassing at the time but you get on with it. But it was only things like that I think which made you realise that the war had had an effect. Then of course towards the end of my Grammar School career a number of the teachers who had been away on war service were coming back and the older ones took well-earned retirement. Not something which you would tend to think about until later on when you look back and you think, oh I wonder why that happened? And then as you get older yourself you realise why these things happened. It’s not, not something that you think about a lot but when you do think about it, it all comes back. Yeah.
JS: Do you have any recollection of the atmosphere on the day the war ended and the immediate aftermath of the war ending? Can you remember, were there were celebrations in your street? Can you remember your family saying anything or general air at school of relief?
KH: Not really. Again, it was something that yes there were celebrations in the city quite clearly. But as a youngster, bearing in mind what, I’d be only ten or eleven when the war ended. It wasn’t the sort of thing that you got involved in very much. It was, you weren’t old enough in those days. A ten year old or an eleven year old was still regarded as a child. Unlike nowadays where they tend to be treated as semi-adults. But so, yes there were celebrations and yes a sense of great relief and the hopes that everybody would come home safe. Which, you know was important but not something which as a youngster really impacted on you. I think obviously it would impact on my mother and my grandparents on both sides because not only was my father in, in the Royal Air Force but one of his younger, his youngest sister was also in in the WAAF. So that you know the family I think were a case of well, great relief when they both came home safe and sound. So yes there was a sense of relief and, but as a youngster it perhaps doesn’t penetrate the consciousness in quite the same way as it does as you’re older. But as a family my, we had sort of my paternal grandfather as I say was in Mesopotamia in the First World War. My uncle, my mother’s older brother had been in the Durham Light Infantry between the wars and strangely enough very much like his father he couldn’t go back in to the Army at the beginning of the Second World War because he’d become an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture which was a Reserved Occupation and although the Durham Light Infantry wanted him back he couldn’t go back. So he took it on himself to get involved with the Army Cadet Corps and he ran the Army Cadet Corps in the city for a number of years. Even after the war. Until I think he got to an age where he was voluntarily retired. But it was something which again we, we just took on board. It was part of parcel of, of what we were doing. In much the same way as my grandfather because he had allotments and whatnot could supply friends and family with, with fresh, fresh veg and so on. And also, I think, I know we used to sell apples from the door and presumably what was raised from those went to, went to charities or went to support the, probably went to support the Army Cadet Force I would think because my uncle was so involved in it. These are odd little things which you think about if, you know if you sit down and put your thinking cap on.
JS: And you said after your father was demobbed he came home in his demob suit.
KH: Oh. Yes. Of course all Service personnel got a demob suit. And the one thing that I do remember was that it was a brown suit which was most odd because going back into the bank I don’t think he would wear a brown suit in the bank. Not in those days. Banking was very much more formal than it is now. In fact, I think if my father was still alive and was still involved in banking he’d be horrified at some of the things that happen. One of those things. But yeah. The, the demob set up is a little bit different then I think from when I came out. I mean I had to sign the Official Secrets Act of course when I, when I signed on, and again I had to sign it again at the time I was demobbed. But I spent my three years at RAF Innsworth as part of the Record Office where I was working in the Stats Section until I was seconded to the Home Command Coronation Unit which in fact happened to be based at Innsworth. And we did all our training on one of the local airfields which I believe is now a civil airfield which was RAF Staverton at that time. And we eventually, having completed our training ended up in Kensington Gardens under canvas for the actual Coronation. And of course Coronation Day was a dreadful day weather wise but we were fortunate. Our section of the route lining force were in the Haymarket. And the Haymarket in London in those days was two way traffic and it had islands down the centre. And I was on the edge of the road in the middle of one of these islands and the royal coach came past my side of the island and the outriders that are normally alongside the coach during the procession because of the narrowness of the road had to go in front and behind. And as the coach passed me Phillip must have said something to Her Majesty and she turned to speak to him and I have a photographic memory of seeing her turn towards Phillip. So I had a full face view of the Queen on the day of her Coronation. Granted, around the barrel of a 303 but still something that one never forgets. And that, that night or that afternoon after we’d got back to Kensington Gardens I think it must be the only time that the Royal Air Force had issued the men with a rum ration. It had been such a dreadful day that we were all taken to the mess tent and dished out with a tot of rum. And that evening three of us went off into, into London because up ‘til that point we hadn’t been allowed out of Kensington gardens. But we went to look at the fireworks and we went down to Buckingham palace to see the royal family and their guests going off to the ball at Hampton court. And because we’d been trained in crowd control as part of our Coronation training we were able to link up with the police to control the crowds outside Buckingham Palace that night. And again something which I didn’t discover until I was married and talking to my wife about the Coronation in London and had discovered that she had been in London with her uncle and aunt and they had been at Buckingham palace on that night. Although obviously neither of us knew the other but we were both there at the same time. Strange coincidence. But we, after we’d seen some of the fireworks on the Embankment we were looking for a drink and all the pubs of course were packed out to the doors as you could imagine. And eventually we looked through the doors of one pub and somebody seeing three RAF uniforms it was like a tidal wave. The crowd opened up to the bar and we were given straight access to the bar and I don’t think we bought a drink for ourselves the rest of that night. One of those things where you know men in uniform in those days were regarded with consideration and there wasn’t any of the problems that sadly we have now where men are told not to wear uniform when they go into towns and so on. Which is, I think very, very sad because the armed forces now and then do a remarkable job in protecting what we have in a democratic country. And it’s sad that men in uniform have got to be told to, not to go in to towns in their, in their uniforms. Although I’ve got to see we do see some uniforms in Andover which we still, it’s not the garrison town that it once was but there are still quite a lot of Service personnel around and we do see some of them in town and nobody ever I’ve never come across anybody making any adverse comment on what I’ve seen in Andover. But I know it does happen in some places. Sad. Very sad.
JS: I expect your parents were hugely proud of you serving in the RAF. Did you ever speak to your father about your time there?
KH: Not, not specifically because the only thing was talking about the Coronation obviously because that was, that was something which you know happens once in a generation. But most of, most of the work that I was doing wasn’t something that you would, you would talk about. Alright you know I mentioned the Official Secrets Act and I was based in a section which dealt with personnel for all the RAF stations throughout the world by command. So you just didn’t talk about it because, well in those days there were so many different commands and obviously a lot more RAF bases throughout the world than there are now that it would have been impossible anyway to keep in mind what happened in any particular RAF camp in the Middle East, or the Far East or in Europe or wherever. But it, it would never have occurred to me to have discussed anything to do with that. It was something which wasn’t to be discussed even, even with my father. Yes. We’d talk about inconsequential things like guard duty and having, you know things like hearing the experiments with the after burners for jet engines which took place at a company called Rotol which was just up the road from RAF Innsworth. And also seeing some of the test flights of the, the RAF Javelin. The Gloster Javelin which was in its test flights was always supported by a Meteor. And seeing those two aircraft together made you realise how big the Javelin was. Because of course it was being built at Gloucester, in the factory on the outskirts of Gloucester which was not far from where the Record Office Unit was. So things like that. Yes. You could remember and you would talk about it. I would talk about with my father, you know because he’d obviously been involved with Lancasters and Manchesters, and I think it gave him a taste for flying because when he came out of the Royal Air Force he joined the Newcastle Aero Club and got his private pilot’s licence which, so that he flew Tiger Moths and Austers. And both my wife and I flew with him in the Tiger Moth. I can remember going to the Aero Club on one of their at home days when there had been all sorts of demonstrations and one thing and another and my dad had said to my wife, ‘Come on. I’ll take you up.’ And they went. They went up and flew out over, over the border country. Over North Northumberland and so on and it was, it was a very nice night.
SH: Very cold.
KH: And it was, yes. As my wife just said, very cold. And it must have been quite light up there but it was getting quite dark on the ground and I can remember the flight engineer who was a very, very good pilot himself standing on the grass outside, outside the hangars striking matches as my dad came down. That was, that was quite amusing. Yeah. So we maintained a contact with flying although I never had the opportunity or the time to get a pilot’s licence myself. But I do remember flying with my dad on several occasions when I was at home from university. Yeah. Yeah. Strange. Strange how things have a knock on effect because although my father’s uncle was one of the early members of the Newcastle Aero Club I don’t think there had been any thought of my dad getting involved until he came out of the Royal Air Force. One of those things. But yeah.
JS: You say you kept up that connection with flying. Did he keep up any connections in terms of any Associations? Did he meet up with people he’d served with? They were quite a fluid bunch as I imagine in various parts of the country.
KH: You see, I think there was only one person that he ever sort of had contact with after he came out of the forces. See the Royal Air Force is rather different from the Army, for example where in the Army you move as a regiment or as a section of a regiment. So that you have that connection with a bunch of chaps or girls who are together as a unit. In the Royal Air Force there’s a subtle difference between the aircrew and the ground crew. The aircrew will move with the Squadron. The ground crew tend to move as individuals between units because they, they are posted. And I know this from my RAF experience myself in the Record Office. They are posted as individuals to, to a unit. To an RAF station. They’re not posted to a Squadron like they were during the war. But even during the war as exemplified by the fact that although my dad was posted to 97 Squadron and was based at Woodhall Spa when 97 Squadron moved out it was only the 97 Squadron aircraft and aircrew that moved out. The ground crew remained there. And that’s how my father came to serve with 617. Because 617s ground crew would remain at Scampton. That’s the difference. So that you don’t have that sort of ongoing connection except as aircrew. I mean, you talk, if you talked to people who have been aircrew and we’ve got a near neighbour who was in the Royal Air Force and he still goes. He was a, he flew helicopters and various things. And he still has Squadron reunions. But I think that’s the difference. Understandable when you know how the, you know sort of how the system works. I don’t know about the Navy although my niece has just retired as a naval officer. I don’t know. They, they are sort of posted to ships more or less. So I think the navy and the Royal Air Force have a similar —
JS: System.
KH: A similar sort of system. Unlike, unlike the Army and probably the Royal Marines.
JS: And he didn’t discuss the war much?
KH: No.
JS: In the years that followed it. He went back to working at the bank as you said.
KH: Yes.
JS: Because he felt he owed them that because they had released him to go.
KH: Yes.
JS: And he stayed working in Durham.
KH: He stayed in Durham. He, he for a short while he was moved to Bishop Auckland which is about twelve, twelve or fifteen miles outside the city. He moved to Lloyds Bank there for a short while but didn’t move out of the city because it was within easy travelling distance. So, yes he remained at Lloyds Bank in Durham until he, until he retired. Yes. He became a sub manager at one of the sub branches of the city but it was a sub-branch in one of the mining villages. So it was not a case of having to move. So we, as a family we remained in the city and I only left the city when I joined the Royal Air Force myself and then when I went to university and then, you know that sort of broke the, broke the connection although after, after we were married because my wife and I were married in the city in our parish church and after having lived in the East Midlands we moved back to the North East but not to the city because I was then working in Newcastle. So it was only my parents who remained in in the city and they both remained there until they died.
JS: And you lost your father at quite a young age, didn’t you?
KH: My father. Yes. He died very very suddenly when he was only fifty nine. Which was a great shock. Particularly as, or within, within the previous fortnight he’d had a full flying medical and passed. Passed his full flying medical and then had a massive heart attack within a fortnight. So it was, that was quite a, quite a shock for all of us.
JS: For all of you. Yeah.
KH: And at that time my sister was in, was living in Australia because her husband was a civil engineer and he was working out there and so, she wasn’t here when he died.
JS: And your sister’s name you told me was Ann.
KH: My sister was Ann.
JS: Ann. Yeah. And your mother’s name for the record.
KH: My mother’s name was Hilda.
JS: Hilda. That’s right.
KH: Her maiden name was Lambeth. L A M B E T H. And that is my middle name.
JS: Ok. And she stayed in the city, did she?
KH: She stayed in the city. She remained in the family home that was bought. That they bought after the war when my father was demobbed and until she eventually went into Sherman House Hospital which was a Church of England Old People’s Home which was where she died after having, having had a series of strokes unfortunately.
JS: And you did give me the address of the family home at the time.
KH: The family home that was bought after the war was 24 Church Street Head. Church Street having been split into two sections, Church Street proper which ended where, just above St Oswald’s Church which was our parish church and the parish church. The infant school which was attached to the parish church that was sort of the dividing line. Up to that point it was Church Street and from there up to the crossroads at the top it was Church Street Head. One of those peculiar things that you get in cities where one street has two sections.
JS: Yeah.
KH: Yeah. It was, in those days it was basically on the outskirts of the city and just beyond the road that ran across at the crossroads there was the university. One of the university science colleges there. But beyond, but that was quite small. And beyond that were woods that, the woods which surround the city and a lot of that land was owned by the university because the majority of the land around Durham City was owned either by the university or the Cathedral, and all that land now is occupied by new colleges. There are one, two, three, four. At least four colleges now on the south side of the city. No five. Because there was a female college opened. That was the first one to be opened just after the war and it was opened by the Queen when she was Princess Elizabeth. So there are all those colleges now are built on what were woods and fields. It’s quite, quite an alteration. And I haven’t lived in the city since 1961, and, and I’m quite certain that there have been a lot more alterations since. Well, I knew the city obviously beyond ’61. I didn’t live in the city after ’61 but obviously my mother and father did. So until we moved south in 2000 I was in and out of, in and out of the city so I know what developments went, went on up to the beginning of the current century but what’s gone on in since then is anybody’s guess from my point of view. Obviously there must have been a lot more development but —
JS: Yeah.
KH: Not that I’m aware of.
JS: Places change don’t they? Yeah. Right. Well, that’s really comprehensive. Thank you very much for all that for your time in, and your patience in talking to me about that. Is there anything else that you can think that you would like us to say for the record given that it is a Digital Archive. Was there anything that you would like to say? Anything you can think of now or any comments that you would like to make?
KH: Not really. Except, the only thing that I would say is that I feel that it is vitally important that what the likes of my parents, my wife’s parents and their generation what they did for this country should never ever be forgotten. And the generations that come up it should be made quite clear to them why we are still a free country. And they should never assume that things will just drop into their lap. Everything that is worth anything has to be fought for and cherished. Those are the things that I think are sometimes lacking in the teachings now of the youngsters coming up like, like our granddaughter. I mean our two children when they were at school were taught a certain amount of history and in fact, it’s quite amusing. They came home on one occasion and we, we discovered that they were being taught the details of the ‘39/45 war as history. So we decided as parents that we weren’t just parents we were history. But you know, that was, that’s the lighter side of it. But I think seriously the current young generation I don’t think they’re taught the history. Not just what happened in two world wars although obviously they’re getting a lot about the First World War just at the moment but I think, you know some of the so called ancient history of this country on which a lot of our civil rights are founded. A lot, a lot of that doesn’t seem to be taught anymore and I think that is very sad. And I think, you know the education system needs to be looked at in that respect because we can’t afford to lose our history because that is part of our identity. Alright. I might be pontificating a bit but I do feel fairly strongly about it and I wouldn’t want to be called a Little Englander but you know I think we need to be proud of Great Britain and ‘great’ being the important part of it.
JS: I don’t think many people will disagree with you. I think that’s absolutely a fair point. Well, again thank you very much. Thank you for your time and your patience and thank you to Sybil as well, your wife who is here with us. And I very much appreciated you taking the time
KH: I’m only too pleased to have been able to do it because I think it’s important that those of us who lived through the war should leave a record of what, what happened so as far as they’re concerned. And you know sadly the people who actually fought the war for us are becoming few and far between now so it’s only the likes of us who are now getting sort of towards the end of our active life as you might say you know we’re the only ones who perhaps have a memory of it. And if those memories disappear a bit like the, some of the memories of the First World War which have just disappeared and only been found by archaeologists and things like that. Because there was no such things as digital recordings.
JS: No. No.
KH: Which is what we’ve got now.
JS: No. We’re fortunate to have the tools now at our disposal and that’s what the Digital Archive is all about.
KH: Yeah.
JS: Which is keeping those memories alive and keeping that message alive
KH: Yeah.
JS: So that, so what you’ve done for us today is really important.
KH: I’m pleased.
JS: So thank you very much both of you.
SH: It’s ok.
KH: Pleased to help.
JS: Thank you.
KH: Really pleased to help. Thanks



Joyce Sharland, “Interview with Ken Hayton,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 1, 2023,

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