My 1960s hitch-hike to Weymouth

My teenage 1960s hitch-hike to Weymouth – a magical journey to a magical place!

I hope you enjoy this look back to the 1960s in this short blog which is also available as this podcast on YouTube:

This is the audio version of this blog – ready by my son James

Weymouth to me, back in the 1960s when I was a teenager was a magical place. I was in love with it and the people and especially everything about the Wyke House Hotel! My elder brother George met June, his wife to be, in the September of 1960 in Aldershot which was our family home whilst he was convalescing following a vehicle accident whilst in the Army. Even though George was not to leave the Army until December 1961 Wyke House Hotel became the centre of June and George’s world from 1961 onward. They were were married in February 1962 at Wyke parish church which was next to the hotel. Very soon after George’s move to Weymouth I began my visits there meeting June’s family and getting to know them and their friends at this wonderful place!

One day George said come down and help with at the hotel. I decided to hitch hike. Dad insisted on taking me to the A30. I think it was Hartley Wintney. In those days, the A30 ran straight through the village. There were no motorways, and I don’t remember any bypasses or dual carriageways. The A30 would take me to Salisbury and then via another A road, high up across over Salisbury Plain and Cranborne Chase – offering wonderful vistas across the rolling countryside. I could then get to Dorchester with a short hop to Weymouth.  I hitched a lift to just before Winchester, where the A33 used to divide off to Winchester and Southampton. I was heading westward towards Stockbridge and Salisbury. It was just a fork in the road in those times. No motorways in those days.

Sitting on a bank overlooking the fork in the road on a lovely sunny day, I hadn’t even started hitching when a car pulled up. More than a car – this was a Ford Mustang!  

An image of a 1960s Ford Mustang from Pinrest

An open top car and the engine was throbbing way! An exceedingly rare car in those days in England. It was straight out of a Hollywood movie, red, a beautiful looking car. The guy shouted to me, “do you want a lift”? “Yes please” I yelled and scrambled down the grassy bank. As I got in, I almost stepped on a massive, great dog sitting in the footwell of the passenger seat. It was a red setter or something similar and luckily it paid no heed to me.

So off we went – and did we go! The guy took off at a rate of knots, accelerating. I watched the speedometer needle rise rapidly until we were going at over 70 mph at times. I had never been in a car at that speed before! He sped along the A30. For much of the time it was dead straight. We were on an old Roman road as I found out later.

Extract from a 1948 map of Wiltshire showing the A30 – originally the roman road from Winchester to Old Sarum (near Salisbury)

At each crest of the hill the wheels left the ground! I had my heart in my mouth. We eventually got to Salisbury where I was dropped off. I was grateful for his lift, but also grateful to get out of the car!

Hants & Dorset single decker at Salisbury Bus Station Click HERE for source

I found myself by the bus station. I think part of the open area was also a cattle market. To one side was a brick built rather plain building and it served as a cafe and a pub. I went in and got myself a cup of tea and a very plain sandwich, – the only type available! very typical of cafes in those days. Just a choice of ham or cheese. I had cheese. Soon after I boarded a bus to Blandford Forum.  I’d always liked trips on buses especially on those old-fashioned buses with their very comfortable seats. It was a Wilts and Dorset district bus painted red.

Some of the original Dorset red ‘finger posts’ road signs are now protected

It seemed to match the fingerpost road signs they had in those days throughout Dorset which were painted red. They were distinctive but, sadly, there aren’t many left today. It was a relaxing and very pleasant journey looking out the window onto the gently rolling green hills of the Wiltshire and Dorset countryside. I drifted off into dreamy thoughts without a care in the world.

At Blandford Forum I thought, well, I’ll have another go at hitching. And literally just then a hay lorry came along, a low-backed lorry, partly loaded. As instructed, I climbed up on the back of the lorry. It was a slow, old vehicle which trudged along towards Dorchester, and I thought I was never going to get there! I felt I had gone back in time. However, it was a pleasant afternoon so no worries – the last stage of the journey was a Morris Minor. As you come into Weymouth from the Dorchester direction you get to a hilltop and a gap in the hills when you look over the whole of Weymouth and towards Portland.

I always remember the first time I saw that view, – it’s still in my mind today, you see for miles across the curving edge of Weymouth Bay and over toward the island of Portland rising out of the sea connected via a narrow ismuth to the mainland alongside Weymouth Harbour.

After being dropped off on the bustling seafront in Weymouth I walked up to the Wyke House Hotel. A white Georgian manor house set in its own grounds surrounded by a high wall next to Wyke church.

Wyke Church

You couldn’t see the house from the road as not only was there a wall but also there were evergreen bushes like rhododendrons which gave it that secluded feeling. Entering the gateway, you are in another world away from this modern world. There were large ancient trees in the grounds. I recall a Lebanon cedar tree to the left other trees with the outbuildings to the right. In the centre was this white Georgian building comfortably standing in its own grounds. The central portico had columns to either side with the house extended on both sides. It wasn’t a large building but nevertheless an impressive two-storey with the large Georgian windows and a fine grey slate roof.

I’d arrived at one of my favourite places in the world!

Wyke House Hotel – 1960s
Location of Wyke House Hotel on a 1960 Bartholomew’s Map of Dorset
My route to Weymouth

Tribute to my brother John Ient

It is with great sadness that I write in remembrance of my dear older brother John who passed away peacefully on March 30, aged 85.  John Ient, who was born in Malta on 2nd September 1934. He is much loved and will always be remembered.  (see below for a link to tributes)  

Maj J E Ient leading a troop of Royal Signals through Richmond, N. Yorks

John had a successful long career as a soldier in the Royal Signals before his retirement as a Major Quartermaster, some years ago. Born in 1934 in Malta where our father was serving in the Royal Signals, the family soon moved back to England on a new Army posting and ultimately the family moved to Hong Kong where dad had been posted in 1938. With the war in the Far East

George (L) & John Ient (R) flank my mother in a photo taken in Manila, Philippines in 1940

getting closer and closer mum and brothers John and George were firstly evacuated to the Philippines and then on to Australia where they spent the war. The family was separated from our dad from 1940 to 1945. In July 1945 mum and my brothers returned to England and by this time John was nearly 11 years old. When he was 15 he joined the Army Boys’ Service rising to the rank of Boy Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM).

John Ient , Boy RSM (centre front) March Past in Beverley 1951

After transferring to the regular army he joined the Royal Signals and his army service included postings to Egypt, NATO/SHAPE headquarters at Fontainebleau France, Germany Singapore and Northern Ireland. John finished his career as a Major Quartermaster and lived many happy years in Richmond, Yorkshire with his wife Dorothy, who sadly died a few years ago.

My condolences to his son Gary and his family who live at Northallerton. With a heavy heart and fond memories from many decades ago,

John’s brother, Victor Ient



Click on the images below to go to specific tributes:

Announcement in the local Yorkshire newspaper with tribute



‘Much Loved’ web site with tribute and photos with link to Cancer Research UK




Link to Catterick Branch Royal Signals Association post about John

New Book about WWII – These Valiant Men

These Valiant Men –  The Story of Eight British Servicemen in World War II in the Far East –  by Victor S. Ient

At last my book is published! For more info click HERE

It wasn’t until my father died, in 1988, that it dawned on me that I actually knew very little about his life as a soldier and more especially about his life as a POW. I had clues and snippets but I needed more if I were to write his story. My mother outlived my father by 11 years so I accumulated more little stories which were like briefly opening a ‘window on the past.’ I went on the hunt for dad’s fellow servicemen and POWs who were still alive. Luckily I actually met four of them and gathered the information about the other three with the help of contacts and descendants including Adrian Batty whose father was in the same POW camp as my dad. Adrian wrote the chapter about his father. I was also helped by an experienced WWII historian who has kindly written the forward, – Dr Tony Banham. The experiences of the other POWs has enabled me to fill the gaps in my childhood memories to make a full (well almost) account of what it was like for them from 1941 until 1945.

In the book I present you with the biographies of these eight men. It’s not all doom and gloom, as you will see. Of course, they describe some of the horrors, but their characters are strong. Their factual and sometimes humorous accounts have brought into focus what life was like in those terrible years.

There are many books written about and by great leaders and generals, but what about the ordinary guy? Their story is worthy of the telling as well.  These eight were ordinary guys who were caught up in the global war during the 1940s, many of them young men, just finding their way in life who saw a career in the Services as adventure and travel. Little did they know what was to befall them in 1941!  Read this book if you’re interested in understanding how, by accident and luck, I was able to piece together the circumstances surrounding my father’s capture and imprisonment. By investigating the lives of other servicemen who ended up in POW camps in Japan I’ve been able to tell my father’s story.

The long road to achieve civil rights!

This BBC radio programme ‘In Our Time’ by Melvyn Bragg reveals what a long hard road it is to achieve civil rights but at the same time, one can only admire the courage and determination by the subject of this BBC programme, Frederick Douglass. 

Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818 and, once he had escaped, became one of that century’s most prominent abolitionists. He was such a good orator, his opponents doubted his story, but he told it in grim detail in 1845 in his book ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.’ He went on to address huge audiences in Great Britain and Ireland and, there, some of his supporters paid off his owner, so Douglass could be free in law and not fear recapture. After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, he campaigned for equal rights for African-Americans, arguing against those such as Lincoln who had wanted freed slaves to leave America and found a colony elsewhere. “We were born here,” he said, “and here we will remain.”

More information at Wikipedia

Paddy Ashdown’s book – Game of Spies, WWII

This is a fascinating story by Lord Ashdown (Paddy Ashdown). Whilst the story recounts the heroic actions of many SOE and French resistance agents, it focuses primarily on three people – a British secret agent Roger Landes; the Gestapo counter-espionage officer Frederick Dohse; and a French resistance leader André Grandclément who was responsible for most of the controversial betrayal that took place in France from 1942 to 1944. At first, I thought this was going to be documentary recounting the many conflicts between the Gestapo and the resistance and SOE in France. But it’s more than that, – it’s a gripping story that unfolds during World War II from the time the SOE agents are trained in England to the final days of the liberation of the Bordeaux area and the snub given to British agents by General de Gaulle. The book was clearly painstakingly researched – there are literally hundreds of references. Highly recommended!

Good Reads review:






Forgotten Heroine – Letters from Baghdad

This 90 minute film, tells the amazing and dramatic story of Gertrude Bell (1868 – 1926) who worked tirelessly to get the British Empire to do the right thing in the Middle East during and following World War I. The two features are the incredible story of her life and the vivid historical photographs. I highly recommend it. The narrator takes you on a journey through Gertrude’s life where she expounds on the critically and globally important issues of the day Whilst painting beautiful word pictures of the magic of the orient and life as it was during the decline of the Ottoman Empire and later in sharp contrast the stark reality of World War I. The film goes on describe the creation of new countries and rulers in the post-war period set against the hard commercialism of the British and American scramble for possession of oil rights.

Gertrude was a contemporary of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) but far more influential. Sadly she has been almost completely written out of history. In large part, this film tells her story by the narrator reading from Gertrude’s letters set against a backcloth of original photographic and film footage from the period. Just seeing these Edwardian and wartime images and films is an historic feast in itself. If you want to see what Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and the amazing ruins at places like Babylon & Palmyra were like just watch this film. The real Orient Express is also depicted with scenes at Istanbul and Baghdad. Despite the black-and-white imagery the desert scenes are stunning! There is also amazing footage from scenes in London and Paris. It’s an historians delight!

I was particularly struck by her very clear understanding of the circumstances and future challenges of the period.  Much of what she says still rings true today! Here are a few quotes from her letters:

Talking about what would eventually become Iraq she said, “The first thing we should do in this country is to understand what is going on at the bottom of the Shia mind.”

As Britain began to occupy the new country of Iraq she said “The real difficulty under which we labour is that we don’t know exactly what we intend to do with this country. We rushed into this business with our usual disregard for a comprehensive political scheme.”

During World War I she said, “Can you persuade people to take your side when you are not sure if you will be there to take theirs?”

The film is currently available via BBC iPlayer, (also available to buy through other sources)

Also see: Gertrude Bell – Wikipedia 

George and I make our last journey together

Royal Signals Corporal, George Ient at the British Army Nee Soon barracks in Singapore c1960

Last month George and I made our last journey together….. up to Aldershot crematorium from Portsmouth. I know this sounds a bit crazy since George’s funeral was in March but I had agreed that rather than have his ashes buried at the crematorium at Porchester, I would take them to Aldershot for them to be placed next to our mum and dad.

George Ient is laid to rest








George was born in Aldershot in 1937. After dad’s army posting to Hong Kong, mum and brothers George, Tommy & John joined him there in 1938.

George (left) with mum and John in 1942 – photo taken in Baguio, the Philippines

In July 1940 mum and my brothers were  evacuated to Australia where they spent the rest of WWII. Finally they returned to Britain in 1945 and following a brief spell staying with relations in South Wales and with Granny in Hounslow, Middlesex, George returned to Aldershot as an eight-year-old.

View from Crooksbury Hill

I spent many happy hours with George exploring the countryside, near our house, when I was four or five years old, until George, at the age of 15, joined the Army Boys Service. So I thought it most appropriate that he and I go on one last journey through those beautiful Surrey Hills, including Crooksbury Hill, which was the first place he took me on these explorations. Earlier this month, George and I went on that journey to his final resting place at Aldershot crematorium, just a few hundred yards from our home in Gloucester Road.

Britain’s Pompeii: A Village Lost in Time

Really worthwhile watching this exciting documentary about the amazing discoveries at Must Farm Cambridgeshire of bronze age England! iPlay video available until the end of Aug 2016 or go to: to find out about it and see the latest information