I had always assumed that we would win the war. How I heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor on that Sunday, or exactly at what hour, I do not remember. But I recall that a stunned silence had fallen over the Campus. The news was terrible. This couldn’t have happened. And I wanted to celebrate.
I walked out of Johnson Hall, wanting to dance—but alone. At last, you really would join us. Britain had fought alone, often admired, often unbelieved. I was at Andover because my father, who knew what Britain’s defenses were after Dunkirk, thought a Nazi occupation was more than likely. Incredibly generous Americans offered us sanctuary, and in late August 1940 my mother, my sister and I sailed for America for—maybe forever.
I was sent to Andover. I wanted to be in England—my country. I finished my second year as an Upper just before my 16th birthday, and such were the oddities of that time that I, as a male, was able to get a passage home. In August 1942 I sailed for England from New York—at the height of the U-boat attacks along the American coast and on the Atlantic convoys. Of course at that age I knew nothing would happen to me—and nothing did. My ship sailed alone, far from the convoy routes, for 14 peaceful days.
I was disappointed: there were no heroic stories of survival in an open lifeboat. My disappointment was mitigated by my camera having been removed for security reasons, so that I would, in any case, be unable to emulate the wonderful photographs of Margaret Bourke-White in the pages of Life! And my personal contribution to the war-effort was another two years at Eton before I was able to join the army in September 1944—and occupy Germany after it was all over! It was a fantastic experience to have had those two years at Andover, but I am glad that I returned to experience the remaining wartime years back in Britain.