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Secret Wartime Britain (Hardback)

Hidden Places That Helped Win the Second World War

Military P&S History > British History WWII

By Colin Philpott
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 247
Illustrations: 80 black and white
ISBN: 9781526735478
Published: 5th November 2018



National publicity!

As featured by the Mail Online, November 2018: The secret sites that helped win WWII. Read the article in full here.

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During the Second World War, thousands of sites across Britain were requisitioned to support the war efforts. Additionally countless others were built from scratch regardless of cost. Often the purpose of these locations was concealed even from those living close by.

The author of Secret Wartime Britain has compiled a fascinating collection of examples that still exist today, albeit often in different usage. They include underground factories, storage sites and headquarters; spy and communication centres; interrogation and POW camps; dummy sites; research facilities such as sinister Porton Down; treasure stores in stately homes and even royal retreats in the event of invasion such as Madresfield Court.

Where were these sites and why were they needed? How successfully were they kept secret? What has happened to them since? Were they returned to their owners? Answers to these and other questions make Secret Wartime Britain a riveting and revealing read.

Featured in

Harrogate Advertiser

This is a really fascinating read that explores one of the few facets of Britain in World War II that have not yet been explored... Most will find this a very readable book and a riveting read that will spark an interest that may lead to more research. Highly recommended for all interested in secret Britain during this period of history.

Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicles Association

Acknowledged in 'An Engineer's Day Out' article, as featured by

Model Engineer, 13th September 2019

As featured by

Fliegerblatt, 3/2019

The nicely illustrated volume includes, in addition to the War Rooms in Whitehall, several Churchill-related locations, such as Ditchley House, the little-used Cabinet War Room at Dollis Hill, and “Churchill’s Toyshop” at The Firs.

Read the full review here

Winston Churchill Blog

Observant members of YCDSME will have noticed the traces of Goldsborough Station on the York to Knaresborough line. There is a former signal box of unusual design, much later than the small North Eastern Railway types on this line. There is a large storage facility nearby but no longer rail connected. This was the site of one of forty three cold stores built during the Second World War for the storage of emergency food supplies. It was built in 1941 and like others rail connected but away from population centres considered vulnerable to bombing. It held stores in case submarine warfare further limited food transport across the Atlantic.

A valuable insight into little known aspects of British history.

York Model Engineers

Featured in the 'reading corner'

BRITAIN, May 2019

An interesting facet of the book is that the author had not flinched from including a few aspects of the war effort where those involved may have fallen short of upholding high standards in their work. By not ignoring the ethical question of whether the ends justify the means, the narrative becomes linked to present times when the moral dimensions of conflict are much more publicly debated.

Secret Wartime Britain is a book which can be read as a complete narrative or dipped into chapter by chapter depending on each individual’s interest. It is a fascinating book on first reading and one which would be worth returning to in the future.

Read the full review here

Denise Bates, Author

This is a well-written and meticulously researched book, covering the many places in Britain which supported the war effort. Colin Philpott doesn’t try to discuss all such sites (there were over 8000 after all), but makes an interesting selection, illustrating them with many facts and first-hand accounts from people who worked there. You’ll find some things you’re familiar with, but other places you may have driven past for years without knowing their secret history. You’ll also read that Britain too had secrets it might not be too proud of, for example production of chemical weapons. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in World War Two, and also local history.

Read the full review here

Amazon Customer

As feature onWW2 Today

WW2 Today

Listed in the 'In View' feature

Military History Monthly, March 2019

A riveting read, and a tribute to the generations across the world who lived and lost their lives through these devastating times.

This England, March 2019 (Spring)

As featured by

Antiques Diary, March/April 2019

Article: Historic unit ‘crucial’ to WWI success as featured by

Keighley News (online), 16th January 2019 - words by Alistair Shand

Article: Town had vital but 'hidden' role to play in Second World War as featured by

South Wales Echo, 21st December 2018 – words by Brian Lee

This is the kind of book that might inspire one of those brilliant Channel Four documentaries that could be presented by someone like Tony Robinson or even Michael Portillo. Crammed with fascinating tales of amazing excavations and creations that in some way or other were planned to help Britain to win the second world war, Colin’s book is a revelation, and hugely enjoyable. Boys’ Own Paper stuff in many cases, but absolutely terrific.

Read the full review here

Books Monthly

“a fascinating read in every respect”

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Radio Merseyside, 17/12/18 with presenter Sean Styles

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Three Counties Radio, 17/12/18 with presenter Nick Coffer

Article: 'Beaches of East Lothian had vital role in D-Day landings as featured by

Edinburgh Evening News, 15th December 2018

Article: 'Nellie – Churchill's secret weapon' as featured by

Nottingham Post, Bygones 3rd December 2018 – words by Andy Smart

Author article: From factories to East Lothian beaches – how the war was won as featured by

The Scotsman, 12th December 2018

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Radio Wiltshire, 12/12/18 with presenter James Thomas

As interviewed by

London Live with Katie Pilbeam

As featured in

Prospero October 2018

This new 246-page hardback book from Pen & Sword and author Colin Philpott is a real treat. There are a host of individual sites around the British Isles which are included in here and each has a story to tell... A fascinating book and to sum things up, I loved it.

Read the full review here

Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

Interview article as featured by

Yorkshire Evening Post, 21st November 2018 - conducted by Chris Bond

Interview article: Silence was secret weapon of war on the Home Front as featured by

Yorkshire Post (online & print), 21st November 2018 - word by Chris Bond

Article: 'Harrogate's secret links to Bletchley Park' as featured by

Harrogate Advertiser, 15th November 2018 – words by Graham Chalmers

It’s a great read, beautifully illustrated with current and period pictures. Definitely one for those with an interest in the wartime years.

Click here to read the full review and view PDF sample pages

Scottish Field (online), 22th November 2018 - by Kenny Smith

Scotland's secret wartime past in new book

Scottish Field (online), 20th November 2018

Article: 'Book tells of tank testing at Clumber' as featured by

Worksop Guardian, 16th November 2018 – words by Edward Dingwall

As featured by

Wendover News (online), 13th November 2018

Article: 'Secret wartime britain revealed in new book' as featured by

Telegraph & Argus (print), 31st October 2018 - words by Sally Clifford

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, 6/11/18 - with presenter Brody Swain

As featured

Mail Online

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Radio York with presenter Jonathan Cowap

Article: 'Plotting rooms, secret underground bunkers - how silence and secrecy helped to win the war' as featured by

Telegraph & Argus, 31st October 2018 – words by Sally Clifford

Click here to listen to author interview

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BBC Radio Leeds with presenter Andrew Edwards

An interesting compilation of British locations, some not so secret, that were important to the conduct of the Second World War. Well researched and with useful contemporary and modern photographs, it is a useful addition to the bookshelf.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide.

Michael McCarthy

About Colin Philpott

Colin Philpott has a long-standing interest in recent German history and in abandoned buildings and venues.
His first book A Place in History, looking at the impact on places where news stories happened in twentieth century Britain, was published in 2012. His drama The Last Match about the last day of peace before World War Two, was first performed in 2014.
He is a former Director of the National Media Museum and was a BBC programme-maker and journalist for 25 years. He also works as a non-executive director, a producer on creative and media projects and as a radio and event presenter.He lives in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

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