Hawtin Mundy

BBC History Magazine - - WWI Eyewitness Accounts -

Hawtin was brought up in Buck­ing­hamshire and served as an ap­pren­tice coach-builder. He was posted to the 5th Ox­ford­shire and Buck­ing­hamshire Reg­i­ment on the west­ern front in April 1917. On 3 May that year he had been cap­tured by the Ger­mans. As a prisoner Hawtin was given var­i­ous jobs on work­ing par­ties out­side the camp and had a fair amount of free­dom.

I spent a few weeks work­ing on a farm. The farmer used to come in each day and pick up so many pris­on­ers… it wasn’t a bad job at all, hay­mak­ing and so forth. There was four or five girls from the vil­lage as well. The old farmer, me be­ing the only English­man, he sort of sin­gled me out for, not

pref­er­en­tial treat­ment, but cu­rios­ity per­haps.

He used to like a drink and he had his old horse and cart and he used to get me to drive him back into the vil­lage to the vil­lage pub. That was very amus­ing be­cause he’d go in there and sit there per­haps for a cou­ple of hours or more and keep knock­ing them back. He al­ways used to get me a drink at the same time, but the strange thing was when we went back, when he’d fin­ished, he never paid a penny for the drink! He used to book it all down and then send the bill in.

He wasn’t a bad old stick, but he had a son and he was an of­fi­cer in the Ger­man army, and he came home on leave. He didn’t take at all kindly to me, but while he was there he cleaned all his buck­les and things, pol­ished them all up and he set them all out in a row on some rail­ings out­side the house. I saw this belt buckle and it shone beau­ti­ful. I thought ‘ here goes’ so I pinched it and I’ve still got it! I bet he got a hell of a row for los­ing it.

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