Barnsley at War 1939–45 (Paperback)
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The ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’ of 1918 was supposed to be the conclusion of the ‘war to end all wars’.
Just twenty-one years after the armistice was signed, Barnsley, its borough and the world braced itself for a global conflict that history would eventually testify to be deadlier than the war that destroyed a generation of Barnsley men and boys.
After the Great War, the famous market town stumbled into a new era that promised social change, including universal suffrage, economic and political stability and establishments of new international organisations such as the League of Nations to steer the masses. In reality, the town suffered in poverty, endured pit disasters, countless industrial deaths all the while still lamenting its lost generation, mercilessly butchered on The Somme.
The books narrative explains in detail Barnsley’s transition from its interwar years, to the euphoria of victory in 1945, supported by a timeline of national events that helped shape the town. It steers away from the common two-dimensional viewpoints some people had on the Home Front and the endless reusing of the same themes - ‘the Great British spirit’, Churchillian greatness, D-Day, Dunkirk and VE day. Although one cannot dismiss those remarkable qualities the town developed during the war, it also explores controversial topics such as social impacts, the rise in juvenile delinquency, misplaced optimism, increase in crime and the acceptance of the status quo by some members of the ruling council.
Indeed, Barnsley rose to the challenge as it did years earlier, women once again revealed their rightful place in society as equals, miners smashed productivity records, men and women took up arms in anticipation of invasion.
The Second World War had arguably the same impacts on Barnsley as the Great War, further local names etched on the memorials as a timeless reminder of the men, women and children who died or gave their life for their town, county and country. Never to be forgotten.
This series is appreciable because it leads us to know the cities from a point of view that few history buffs (military and non) know. The internal front, the ordinary stories of civilians and military connected to a given city, and in this case Barnsley (where the Pen & Sword Books is based!), assume today, in which we are losing many of the direct witnesses of that conflict terrible, an even greater importance that this kind of books enhance and make the general public understand.Old Barbed Wire Blog
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I am sure anybody from the region, or interested in researching the local history of that area, will find plenty of useful information about what was happening in the area, and also about what happened to the locals who were mobilised during the war. This would be a perfect present for relatives or friends who remember the era or are interested in it, and also for anybody wanting to become better acquainted with that period of UK history at a local level.Author Translator, Olga Nunez Miret
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Fascinating insight into our local military history which is often overshadowed by the experience of WW1.Paul Reed via Twitter
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The detailed and involving text is supported by a wealth of images in the form of photographs and maps. Many of these are rare images and include reproduction of adverts and posters. Barnsley rose to the challenges and the joy of Victory Celebrations completes the review. A book of special interest for the people of Barnsley and Yorkshire, but also a very valuable history for anyone interested in WWII and the social upheavals of the 1930s and 1940s.Firetrench
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Article: 'Book shows how town changed' as featured byBarnsley Chonicle (Chronicle Living), 15th March 2019 – words by Luke Watson
Barnsley in the Great War (Paperback)
Geoffrey Howse is well known for his books on Yorkshire subjects, including six books in the Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths series, two of which cover Barnsley and District and a third which covers South Yorkshire as a whole. In Barnsley in the Great War, he has pulled out the stops and delved deeply into a wide range of diverse events that took place throughout Barnsley during the time when the most horrendous conflict known to man was raging abroad. As well as including interesting passages about the enormous changes that were taking place concerning the employment of women in roles they had…By Geoffrey Howse
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