Brighton at War 1939–45 (ePub)
Long before war was declared on 3 September 1939, Brighton had steadily and carefully prepared for the coming conflict by building shelters, organising defence and rescue services, and providing the population with advice of its own or from government sources. These precautions stood the town in good stead when the first bombs fell on it in mid-1940 and during the many subsequent attacks.
The resort did not, admittedly, suffer as grievously as some other coastal locations, yet civilian casualties totalled nearly 1,000, with over 200 deaths recorded in the civic Book of Remembrance. Serious injuries were sustained by 357 and slight injuries by 433.
This is not the first book to reveal the toll of the bombs locally, but it is the first to describe, in parallel, day-to-day events and societal responses during the nearly six years of conflict. As elsewhere, restrictions often made life arduous for residents. Yet despite the hardship, the town’s citizens even marshalled sufficient resources to ‘adopt’ two battleships and generously saved towards assisting with other wartime causes, such as help to our ally, Russia.
The hospitality trade and resort-related services suffered greatly during the periods when the defence ban on entering the town was enforced. In many respects, however, life went on largely as before, particularly in the spheres of entertainment, leisure and some sports.
Douglas d’Enno, an authority on the history of Brighton and environs, shows in meticulous detail, in absorbing text and numerous pictures, how life in wartime Brighton was a struggle for many, but never dull.
As I have said before this ‘Your Town & Cities Series in WWII’ is one of my favourite history series to read. It’s the mix of everyday life in a British city and how it copes and deals with the effects of living through World War II. Each book revolves around a particular town or city and in this particular case it’s Brighton, which actually was involved a lot in the war due to its geographical position on the south coast. Although Brighton is the city in this book dealing with the effects of war, the book is full of local information pertaining to dealing with it. So there is lots of local news such crime, fire duty, local industry, dealing with bombing raids, the construction and planning of local air raid shelters, memorials, food production, sporting activities, recruitment of young men and so on and so on. I loved the bit about a ME-109 being shot down and as it was mostly intact it was put on display, where you pay to have a look and all monies raised went towards a local Spitfire fund. I just really enjoy reading these books from cover to cover, in fact when it comes through the door it’ll be the first book I read. I always recommend these books, brilliant to read.UK Historian
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