FROM a German schoolboy during the Second World War to 60 years in Hadleigh, people have always said Robert Hallmann lived a fascinating life.

Now the public will have the chance to read about it after the 84-year-old decided to tell his story in a new book.

A Short Thousand Years: A Childhood in The Third Reich, begins with Robert’s earliest memory of the war in Remblinghausen, Germany, right up to the age of ten when the war finished, and he left to live in Holland.

The 84-year-old said: “It was absolutely petrifying to live in the war time, I was born in 1935 which wasn’t long before it started. Even as a child, I didn’t want to die.

“When the bombs went off, we used to have to cover our ears so that our eardrums didn’t burst from the explosions.

“Half the village had to be rebuilt as it went up in flames when the bombs were dropped.

“I remember when my sister Marianne, my mother Maria and myself were rushed out of the house because it was on fire while we were inside.

“Every family lost one of two people. My two uncles died and my father was taken to a prisoner of war camp in Russia - we all thought he was dead too, but luckily he came home in 1948.

“They even shot a man our family knew because he refused to kill people.”

Some years later in 1960, Robert found work in London.

He said: “I went to an advertising agency in Bond Street, where the man who interviewed me was shocked I was German.

“He seemed really surprised, but luckily there wasn’t a language barrier as I had two or three English classes in Holland and the rest I picked up from work.

“I got the job as a typographer. Housing was affordable in Benfleet and as soon as I smelt the sea, I knew I wanted myself, my wife and daughter to move there.

“Finally we went to Hadleigh as there was more room and the area was really nice. I’ve been here ever since, it’s my home.”

He said: “I’m so proud of the book - it took me about a year to write. The only thing is, my sister won’t be able to read it because it’s in English.”