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Oral History Summary – John Roberts


Ref. No.    KH 090212

Interviewees’ surname(s)  Roberts

Title:                                  Mr

Interviewee’s forenames:  John

Gender:                              Male

Occupation:                       Retired             

Date of Birth:                   22 July 1915 Photo:

Date(s) of recording and tracks (from – to):  12 Feb 2009

Location of interview(s):                  24 Wythenshawe Road, Dagenham, Essex              

Name of interviewer:                        John Saville              

Interviewee’s background: Been at Kingsley Hall Dagenham since about 1932 (still attends church there each week as age 94!). Pacifist

Highlight: Information on life in WWII as conscientious Objector


Summary (1:02) Family background: siblings; father was pattern maker. Family lived in Plaistow; father volunteered in 1914 for WWI in Royal Artillery. Then worked for Brook Bond I Aldgate as tea blender. John joined him there aged 15. (8:40) Moved to Dagenham in 1932, father worked for Ford and John for Kelsey Hayes (making brake shoes for Ford cars) (13:40) First contact with Kingsley Hall Dagenham [KHD] through table tennis and stayed there until war. John had signed peace pledge in 1932 and was a conscientious objector [CO]}. Kelsey Hayes were making parts for lorries for war so he moved to clothing firm until they started making uniforms in 1940. Went before co Tribunals [3] and was sent to work in New Forest. (20:00) John’s Church background: Sunday school in Plaistow; cubs/scouts at CofE (21:00) Had diphtheria and missed exams (24:20) Went to KHD 7 nights a week, met Sybil Thorndike and her son Cassum who came to preach; (26:40) Interest were Table Tennis: knew World Champion {Warner?}; Soccer: Dagenham Athletic amalgamated with the “Robins” and then became the KH Team which played in the Ilford & District League; (31:35) Typical week at KH including Saturday Social (37:35); Detail of process and life as co; (46:30) Returned in 1944 to KHD as “social worker” {CO Tribunal allowed this};  and in 1947 accompanied Sydney Russell [sjr]on his travels to Holland, Paris, and 7 months in US {see 58:42}; (50:30) background info on sjr; (58:42) Trip to US with sjr through Canada and US; (70:46) John went into farming with Pasterfields in Ongar; then to Palmers in Orsett; and Harold Wood; (82:22) in 1954 applied to Land Settlements Association for smallholding in Cambridgeshire and the Margaretting, Essex; (89:30) unsuccessful so returned to Dagenham in debt; info about various people involved, visits to Abersoch; (99:00) 1960-1980 became school caretaker initially Harlow, then Fanshawe School, Dagenham; (109:00) Retired & moved to current address; wife Mary chaired KH Management Committee; John helped with various jobs around the place (116:00) Impact of KH on his life (117:48) Close