Life was tough for the young Barone Hopper – his family bombed out of their London house during the Blitz, his father disappearing, his mother forced to put her two sons into care – but there’s a bracing upbeat tone to this colourful memoir by one of life’s survivors.
We follow the footloose lad via various wartime evacuations, a temporary fostering and several years in a Baptist orphanage until in 1951, at the age of fourteen, he is at last reunited with his brother in a north London house they share with their mother and a new step-father. This part of the story vividly evokes the post-war atmosphere of our capital city, its markets, smogs, the Festival of Britain, cinemas and theatres, pop music and, of course, the author’s early meaningful relationships with girls.
Barry’s first job is with a photographic press agency near Fleet Street, but two years later National Service calls, and he finds himself a sapper shipped to the now notorious Christmas Island where in the 1950s the British, and in the 1960s the Americans, tested numerous atomic H-Bomb nuclear weapons… of mass destruction…
Although Barry himself avoided the direct exposure to radiation which damaged the health of many servicemen, the experience seared itself on his consciousness. After a description of life as a squaddie on this desert island, the latter part of the book is an investigation of the bomb experiments and their aftermath, accompanied by an impressive gallery of photographs and other illustrative material.
Extensive rare colour photographs, including the cover, and other material, has also been provided by Gerald Rice, another ‘Nuclear Veteran’ that witnessed the Operation Dominic Tests in 1962.
This book is the author’s fifth publication.