My big brother, Dennis John Camp, was born over nineteen years before me in 1935. He enjoyed four idyllic years as the literally blue-eyed son of two loving parents. He grew up running free on the farm and spending many happy hours with a doting father.
Dad spent much of his time on the road with the horses and rigged up a hessian sack arrangement attached to the front of the horse van to swaddle Dennis in safely. I’m sure Dad’s idea of safety in the 1930s would not be considered so today.
From birth until June 1940 had an everlasting impact on Dennis and shaped the rest of his life.
The idyll ended abruptly when he evacuated to Stockport with Mum leaving Dad behind. Who can measure the impact on a child to be taken from a rural paradise to be dropped into a war torn, urban nightmare. He suffered the nightmare of the Blitz and long periods of serious illness. He shared a hospital ward with maimed Dunkirk veterans and towards the end of the war trekked by himself from the South of England to Stockport to get back to Mum after running away from the hospital.
His education was near to nothing for the whole of the war and he struggled with literacy for many years.
He saw so many things that a child should never see and all before he was ten years old. The war years increased the loving bond he had with Mum and all the time he was away he never forgot the blissful days with Dad.
Five years is a long time to be parted and the little boy of four who left was not the ten year old boy who returned. Somehow the bond between father and son had been broken and the two of them had a loving but never quite the same relationship they both wished they had.
Just another tragedy we can blame on Adolf Hitler.
The young Dennis now had two strong life memories. One of the farming in Guernsey and the other of war torn Stockport. He loved them both. On the one hand he spent his life attempting to replicate his earliest environment and on the other longing for his war time home.
He lived a full and active life always on the very edge of making a living but in a way that was true to himself. There are many stories to be told about Dennis and I will try to tell some of them.
At the end of the day when the Sun sets in the West the farmer unhitches the horse from the plough and takes him home for the night. I like to think that is where Dennis is now, resting after a hard day in the field. He has seen to the horse before himself and has now gone to bed ready for an early start in the morning.
Rest in Peace, Big Brother.