Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Douglas G. Hartley
HARTLEY: Yes, elementary junior high level. From age six to eleven. Then when the war ended, my father was demobilized. Oh, to jump back a moment, my father joined the British home guard in 1940. He did that because that way he did not have any problems about losing his citizenship, because the home guard wasn't regarded as regular military, and hence a cause for loss of citizenship. Then, when Roosevelt declared that citizenship need not be lost by service in the British army, he enlisted in the elite Coldstream Guards Regiment but to his great disappointment, he never went overseas. When he was demobilized in late-1945, he returned to us. It had been five and a half years since I had seen him. He came back in October and he decided what I needed was some good, old-fashioned English discipline. So he and I went back to England in January, 1946, where I was entered into a British prep school. Everything seemed almost unbelievably austere for an 11 year old coming back to a country which had suffered as England had. I remember creeping up the Bristol Channel in the Victory Ship we crossed over on, and disembarking at Avonmouth, near Bristol, being met by two shabby men in a tiny Austen and driving through bombed out ruins to the train station for the ride to London. London, blacked out, grim, cold. The idea was to give me enough training to get me into a British private (high) school. Though Gilman was and is considered to be an excellent school and I was usually top of my class, I found myself way behind way behind in everything - about three or four years behind a lot of these kids. I was put in classes with eight-year-olds who looked like about five-year-olds! However, I managed to pass the exams for Eton, and I was a “Yank” at Eton - the only American in Eton for four years. That was quite an experience.
Q: I'd like to talk about this. You were in Eton from when?
HARTLEY: From 1947-51.
Q: Actually, those were very difficult years for the British, weren't they? Lots of shortages and the end of the war had not given much relief.