My name is Peter John Dawson b1938 Coventry Warwickshire and my family consisted of, father Alfred John b1909 Lee London, mother Mary Jean b1908 South Shields Co Durham and sister Patricia Phoebe b1936 Greenwich London. We lived in Coventry when World War two started in 1939.
My Dad Alfred John Dawson had been in the RAF from 1927 to 1933 then discharged to the Reserve. At the outbreak of war he was called up and retrained as a Cook and Butcher.
A scheme had been established called “The Joint Air Training Scheme”, In 1940 Dad was sent to South Africa as part of 5 Aircraft servicing unit [5 ASU], to help train English, South African and foreign members as pilots, navigators and gunners in the relative safety of South Africa.
We lived in a double story house at 65 Yelverton Street Coventry.
Pat and Peter Dawson 1939 in Coventry England.
Early in 1940 the house was badly damaged in a bombing raid and only the bottom half was habitable, a year later Mom had a “feeling” and we went to the shelters. On our return the house was completely demolished in a bombing raid.
We wandered up to South Shields Mom’s birth town where her Father lived, although almost 60 years old he was serving in the Merchant Marine as a sailor and was away at sea in the Russian or Atlantic convoys. We had just settled in his house when Mom had another feeling and we off to the shelters again, Mom with a tin pot on the head and Pat and myself in a pram with all our worldly possessions. On the way we met an air raid warden, he asked Mom, “ Latest Paris fashion miss”? Then told us a raid was coming. The next day we went home again, here was granddads third wife Alice [he had 5 and was living with the 6th before he died in 1965] telling a warden “A small blonde woman with two bairns, they must be in there somewhere”, he pointed behind her “I think they are behind you”.
Mom was desolate and approached the local Air Force base Commander. He organised for us to be sent to the married quarters of the Worcester Regiment, which was overseas at that time. Later we were told to prepare to join our Dad in South Africa, we departed in November/December of 1941 [I don’t know the name of the ship or the departure harbour] and arrived in Cape Town February 1942. Dad was given leave to meet us, and while they were getting reacquainted at a dinner and dance Pat and I were put to bed, a big thunderstorm brewed up and when Mom and Dad returned we were missing. Mom looked under the bed and there we were. Pat had made us a comfortable nest and we were fast asleep, habits die-hard.
We travelled up to the Transvaal where Dad was based at Vereeniging [The Joining where two pioneer wagon trains had met in the previous century]; we were quartered at the Walker farm in De Deur [The Door] just outside Vereeniging.
Mary, Pat and Peter Dawson 1942 at the Walker farm.
Dad was transferred after a while to Pieterburg for a year then East London for the duration. Mom worked at The Saint Albans Church as a cook and housekeeper for the priests. We stayed with her for a while then Pat was sent across the road to the girls and ladies Convent I was sent to Cambridge Convent to start school. Dad was sent back to England early in 1945 but the war was nearly over so he was sent on a course then posted to Coventry till cessation of hostilities. We went to Durban for our return to England.
Alfred John Dawson 1945 in England.
Dad was sitting at Liverpool train station, it was raining, cold and miserable, no work, housing was impossible to get so he decided to return to South Africa, plenty work and it was nice and warm and houses were plenty. He telegrammed Mom and we travelled to Johannesburg where we wanted to live.
I eventually joined the South African Air Force in 1955 till retirement in 1992.
The SAAF gymnasium 1955, Peter Dawson in the middle
on his knees.
I married Carol Marais in 1959 and have four beautiful children and 10 grandchildren.
Warrant Officer 1st class Peter John Dawson on retirement 1992.
Peter and Carol Dawson on holiday 2008 on Cape Town beach.
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