Walking Wartime Britain – Channel 5



After reading The Forgotten Village, I was pleased to find this Channel 5 programme which included a section on Strete, another of the villages taken over by the War Office in 1943.   This one was handed back to its residents after the war, and presenter Arthur Williams interviewed a lady who remembered the evacuation.   She told him how they’d been given just six weeks to leave, with the deadline being five days before Christmas, and no assistance in finding somewhere to go.   Farmers had had to sell off their livestock at whatever prices they could get.   Books and indeed TV programmes tend to focus on the Blitz, rationing and the evacuation of children.  That’s understandable, but it was good to see this neglected subject being given some coverage.

The programme also showed the nearby Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.   What a beautiful building – sadly damaged by bombing during the war, but thankfully the Nazis chose a day when the cadets were on leave, so there were no casualties – and what a beautiful town!

And Arthur also learnt about the Devon beaches used by GIs to train for the D-Day landing, and how, tragically, German intelligence picked up on what was going on, and sank a ship with the loss of 639 lives.  Years later, a local man was able to recover the wreck, and it now stands as a memorial to those lost.

This was only a short programme, the second in a series, but it was very interesting and very well-presented.

5 thoughts on “Walking Wartime Britain – Channel 5

  1. mrsredboots

    My grandparents would have been deeply envious – six whole weeks notice! They only had ten days, just ten, to leave their home, which was subsequently wrecked by the troops billeted there. It had been in a very poor state when my grandfather inherited, and my father said they only really had about two years in it as a comfortable, (then) modern house. My grandfather had put some of his papers? treasures? behind a partition wall, which was torn down and the papers burnt. And although the chapel was locked, a conscript persuaded him to leave the key so he could practice the organ – that was all right, but other, drunken soldiers, got in one night and wrecked it. The house is now owned by Lady Colin Campbell, and she has had it (the chapel) restored – it was a lumber room in recent years – and, last I heard, hoped to have it reconsecrated. Sorry for the rant – but six whole weeks! A positive lifetime!

    Liked by 1 person

      • mrsredboots

        It must have been! I know they had to go to a hotel at first; I don’t know how long they were there before they bought their house on top of the hill, where they remained until my grandfather died in 1957, the Castle (as it is known) was no longer really habitable, although people did live in various parts of it on and off.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting. I’ve read, of course, of the great estates/country houses being requisitioned, but had no idea “ordinary” people had this happen as well. I knew people had to take in others if they had spare rooms. I’ll look around for this–maybe it will pop up on youtube (I find most documentaries there).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Bainbridge

    I used to walk there often and remember talking to American veterans who took part in Operation Tiger. More American died there than on Utah Beach on D-Day. A friend of mine farmed behind the naval college and had a bomb crater (a miss) on their land.

    Liked by 1 person

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