AS THE late great comedian Bob Hope would have said: "Thanks for the memories."

Rob Horlock of Cadnam, in the New Forest, is grateful to hundreds of people from all over the country who have sent in their memories and recollections for his book, I Remember When I was Young.

Rob, an IT manager for drinks giant Bacardi in Southampton, had the idea for the compilation three years ago.

"I realised when my parents died that I knew very little about their lives. I wished I had asked them more questions and written down their stories," he said.

"Every day we are losing this precious resource, this link with the past - the memories of the old. There didn't seem to be a book on the shelves like the one I could imagine, so I set to work to make it happen."

A flurry of letters to local newspapers all over the country triggered a steady flow of chatty reminiscences by letter, e-mail and phone.

All over the UK it seemed, there were people who wanted to share their recollections of how life used to be lived.

After a couple of years Rob knew he had more than enough material for a fat volume with memories from every decade from 1920 to 1960. Then came the problem of selection and editing.

"I wanted memories pegged in a period - wartime stories for the 1940s, emigration and World Cup recollections of the 1960s," said Rob.

"I decided to start with memories of the 1920s, but some of the first memories I was given were even earlier.

"My 97-year old neighbour, Vera Wildig, can remember the Titanic setting off from Southampton on her fateful voyage in 1912, and she recollects how shocked she was at seeing the first horseless carriages driving through the New Forest."

From the 1930s, Dorset girl Gwen Hatchard recalled her father's 'open all hours' grocery store, where men came with quart jugs for their draught bitter.

"Most drank it on the premises out of sight of their wives," she said.

Mike Guy remembered two Southampton evacuee children, sent to live with his family in Dorset, who became so homesick for the city that they had to be sent back again.

"I often wondered if they survived the bombing," said Mike. Southampton girl Sheila Hansford did.

"One night we held our breath as a doodlebug putt-putted overhead," said Sheila.

"The sudden silence was the signal to put my fingers in my ears. It landed on the house two doors away with an enormous explosion that shook all the windows out of our house and lifted the air raid shelter out of the ground. We thought our end had come.

"After almost every raid we could look out of our front door and see an eerie orange glow lighting up Southampton docks - the prime target."

Hampshire-bred Rosemary Reavell recalls how the effects of the 1939-1945 War were still felt in the 1950s. "I remember the ration books that my mother had to use for shopping, and the little bottles of orange juice, which I think were free from the government!" she said.

Edward Young, a pupil in 50s Hampshire, wrote about being forced to drink free school milk, learning tables by rote, and headmasters who hurled blackboard rubbers and bunches of keys at pupils who misbehaved.

But the 1950s were a golden era for Stephanie Campion who spent her summers on the Isle of Wight.

"My grandfather set up a camera shop in Sandown and ran an all-inclusive service for holidaymakers - camera hire, developing and printing," she said.

"I used to help, spreading wet photos in the metal face of the drying machines. It was very tempting to spend time marvelling at the peculiar things people photograph!"

Taking pictures was a way of life for former Echo photographer Pat Brookes, but his most striking memory of the 60s was the Wembley World Cup Final - from the German end.

"My father explained there were not enough tickets for everyone to sit in the stands, and I had to watch the game standing up in the north end of the ground," said Pat. "It was only when the two teams walked out onto the pitch that I realised that all around me were cheering for the West German team. Thanks Dad!"

Fellow football fan Mike McGall remembered the Saints in 1966, taking on Man United at The Dell.

"Southampton favourites Terry Paine and Jimmy Melia were overshadowed by the fame of the visiting team - Best, Charlton, Law, Stiles - a fabulous array of talent," he said. Bobby Charlton scored after 90 seconds and Manchester United won 2-1, but I've followed Southampton ever since."

So enthusiastic were the contributors to I Remember When I was Young, that they have supplied Rob with almost enough material for two more books - I Remember When I was Young Too, and Twentieth Century Memories From Abroad.

"I've had letters published in Australia which have proved a rich source of stories," said Rob.

"But more memories will always be gratefully received."

I Remember When I Was Young is available to order from bookshops and on To add to Rob's collection of memories, visit his website