I've lived here since the early 30's. Things were pretty bad at the time, no employment, the only place you could get employment would be in the Docks and of course if you never had anybody working in the docks, grandfather or granddad or any body else, you stood as much of getting in the docks as swimming the channel. So when I received a postcard to tell me there was a possibility that a new Factory would be opened sometime in near future at East Tilbury I went on my bike and immediately rode down. One the way I picked up my girl, I was courting then, on her bicycle. We came to this little cottage effort and in there met somebody who took our names, checked our hands, goodness knows what for, and said they would let us know sometime. After a couple of days or so I got a card to report, we were to be ???????? sort of thing and we were definitely picked out, some half a dozen or so, and when we got to the people who were going to teach us something we found they were all Czechoslovakian. They'd got no idea of England, very, very little idea of the English language, so that was a big whatsaname to start with. Still anyhow after a while or so they go acclimatized and started making a few shoes.
Then they decided that they would send somebody to Czechoslovakia. I was one of the lucky ones, with Georgeie Noakes and Freddy Allen, there were three of us, we were summonsed in the office on the Thursday to say that on Friday morning we would be granted with Passports and Friday evening we would be on our way to Czechoslovakia. It was rather a surprise to my old mum because she didn't know about me buzzing off out of the country like that, especially to a place like Czechoslovakia. Anyhow we caught the Harwich ferry, went across to the Hook of Holland, there we boarded a train and we were on the train for about a day or a day and a half, something like that. We eventually arrived at this little tiny station, no platform, just wooden kind of sleepers laid down and it turned out to be Zlin, where the original place was. That was the nearest railway station and we got on a small bus and it took us right down to the factory and we were quite surprised because although it looked barren there from the train, when we got down we found it was quite big, quite a big industry, a massive factory for the place where it was. They welcomed us in and then showed us where we would be staying, it was called INTERNART, that's a kind of dormitory effort, but there were quite a few of us. We settled down and after a couple of hours or so I then went to get something to east and we found we were sitting with quite a variety of people. There were Germans, Arabs, Czechoslovakians, Americans, Canadians, quite a lot of different nationalities, which rather surprised us. Anyhow they all got round us, kind of patted us on the back, shaking hands, "Good boys, good boys, etc" all in Czechoslovakian. So we said have we got any French people here "French caw no, frogs pooh pooh" they said "the French are down the other end somewhere" that's what they thought about the French blokes. We didn't want to start no war so we just took it with a pinch of salt and carried on.
In the morning, on Sunday morning, we did what we like sort of thing, by the way by now the pavements are thick ice and they stayed that way right up to April. We wandered along and we hadn't got very far and a bloke said "Smart looking boys" all in Czechoslovakian but we got what they meant that we were good looking blokes and we agreed with him there of course. He took our photo, when they came a out I looked like a skeleton. I bought a new coat, it was falling off me, and I had a hat, I looked like Al Capone and I was dressed all pukka according to me. I looked untidy, I thought the coat seemed to be miles too big. Anyhow that the start of the story, I'll follow up about that later on.