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Reading at War 1939–45 (Paperback)

Local History WWII British History Social History Towns & Cities in World War Two England

By David Bilton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Your Towns & Cities in World War Two
Pages: 246
Illustrations: 50
ISBN: 9781473891012
Published: 11th March 2020

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As in the Great War, Reading in the Second World War was a town permanently in a state of flux. So close to London, so easily pinpointed by its proximity to the Thames, with railway lines converging near the town centre and with much of the town’s industry geared up to essential war work, it was an obvious target for the German Luftwaffe when the war broke out. Knowing this, the council had set up an efficient Civil Defence system aided by government finance. Fortunately for the citizens, although they were bombed on many occasions, only one raid had any significant impact.

The book covers the daily life of a town ready for the worst, but one that continued with its daily life and just got on with its efforts to aid the war effort. The book is profusely illustrated with photographs, illustrations and human interest stories. Much of the material used has not been seen since the war so it provides a valuable and unique insight into daily life of the town.

This book is a thicker book than most in the series, but then this is no surprise when you consider how close Reading is to London, it would have had to deal with similar build up and going through war process as London being located close to the Thames. Reading received much government support due to it being industrially important for the war effort and being so close to London. But the book shows that the community still had to cope even with ‘local’ matters just like any other town. This little all the other books in the series have fascinating bits of information, for instance this book shows the details for what to do out in a blackout and a poem about life in the blitz.

I’ve found with this book in particular, it was like reading from the local paper as it had all the quirky and odd bits of information you’d find in a local newspaper. But yet again in this series it is very well written by a top notch writer. It’s hard for me to fault these books because they are very well written and as a fan of local history, I love these. It was nice to read such a weighty book packed with good reading which is complemented with a wide array of photos, pictures and diagrams. I would happily recommend this to anyone especially if you love good local history. 5 Stars.

UK Historian

The very popular “Your Towns & Cities At War” is building a unique collection of volumes providing a detailed local view of all parts of the British Isles during WWII. This new book provides the story of Reading during WWII, its proximity to London and communications links – Very Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here

Firetrench

The latest title in Pen and Sword's excellent towns and cities in world war two series, as David Bilton takes an in-depth look at how the people of Reading coped during the conflict. Interesting to read that suffering from German Air Raids was apparently minimal, and the photographs, as always, are fascinating to see. A brilliant series.

Books Monthly

Read Reading at War

Berkshire Life, May 2020
 David Bilton

About David Bilton

David Bilton is a retired teacher who spends his time looking after his family, working as a University lecturer and researching the Great War. He is the prolific author of numerous books about the British Army, the Home Front and the German Army. His first book, The Hull Pals, became the BBC 2 series The Trench. Since he started writing he has contributed to many television and radio programmes. His interest in the Great War was ignited by his grandfather's refusal to talk about his experiences in Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

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