by Elaine Peprell
John Button was born in Rye 46 years ago. Into those 46 years he has packed more adventures and experiences than any 10 average men put together. He initially attended the Mermaid Street School, but spent some of his later school days and early life out of Rye because his father was in the Air Force and they travelled about quite a lot. On leaving school he worked in Rye for a few weeks but his father was posted to Egypt and the family went with him. He worked for the Air Force as a civilian until the war broke out, then he joined the army in Cairo. He was stationed in Egypt and Crete where he was captured by the Germans when they invaded the island. John spent two years as a Prisoner of War.
He was the first Rye prisoner of war repatriated and a dance was held in the town, which he attended as the guest of honour. While home on “indefinite leave” he spent much of his time fishing. He was recalled to the army alter five months but within 24 hours he was sent home again.
John felt he could best serve his country during the remaining years of the war as a fisherman. After the war he made fishing a permanent career, and except for seven years ashore, when fishing was bad in the early fifties, he has continued in the industry up to the present date. He was once shipwrecked off Winchelsea Beach, his brother and brother-in-law were on board with him and all three had to swim ashore.
He has two children, his daughter Jackie, age 21, lives at Tenterden and has two children. His son, Christopher, recently left school and now goes to sea with his father. Mr. Button’s only brother works at Davie’s.
John had the great honour of representing all Rye’s fishermen and presenting The Queen with Rye Bay Bloaters when Her Majesty visited Rye in October. When asked how he came to be chosen for this honour he told me that he received a letter from the Council asking him to call and see them, when he got there he was asked to make the presentation.
Talking about the occasion, Mr. Button told me that he was very nervous before the presentation but as soon at the Queen spoke to him, he was alright. She asked him if he had caught the fish himself. “Not me,” said John, “but one of the local fishing boats did.”
Her Majesty then went on to ask if they were smoked in Rye and he replied that they were.