Essex at War 1939 - 1945 (Kindle)
Although much maligned, Essex is a vibrant county with a long and exciting history. Being close to the Continent and with one of Britain’s longest coastlines, it was an obvious target for invasion as the threat of war grew. Many defensive structures were built by the sea and to protect major routes across the county. The remains of pill boxes can still be seen.
Essex at War 1939-1945 tells how war greatly affected the county: children were evacuated both to and from Essex; being close to London the county suffered from regular air attacks; farming was important and the Women’s Land Army arrived in force. Accounts of Essex airmen and sailors who supported those escaping from Dunkirk are told, and once the USA entered the war there was a new type of invasion in the county when their servicemen arrived and were welcomed at many of the county’s airfields.
Memories of children growing up during those difficult years are recalled. These include nights spent in cold, damp Anderson shelters, sleeping under solid tables or in claustrophobic Morrison shelters. We learn about disrupted school lessons and the fear felt when the air raid siren wailed. When the V-1 and V-2 unmanned flying bombs were launched in 1944, many still remember listening for the engines to switch off and counting the seconds until they fell to earth.
The British Army and her commonwealth Allies went to war in 1914 with little knowledge and experience of constructing permanent, shell proof protective structures. Some masonry fortifications, such as defensive blockhouses in South Africa, had been built but the Royal Engineers of the Army were more versed in simple temporary defences suitable for mobile warfare. Home defences were a limited number of forts around naval ports, and Martello Towers on the east coast. It was considered that the Navy was quite able to defend Britain's coasts. The Germans, on the other hand, as with the other continental…By Peter Oldham
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