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.