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Second World War

Vernon Bartlett

In September 1938, Neville Chamberlain was in Munich signing an agreement with Hitler and Mussolini. It was the “Peace in our time” document with which Chamberlain returned as a hero. But not everyone believed in the integrity of the agreement.
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The Day War Broke Out

"This country is now at war with Germany.  We are ready".  The nation heard the Prime Minister's words over their wireless sets on 3 September 1939.  Across the town, gas masks were distributed, to be carried at all times.  The Bridgwater Mercury for 6...
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Rationing and Restrictions

Life was changing rapidly. Food shortages and rationing, the disappearance of the menfolk and the introduction of the black outs soon led to the cancellation of all kinds of events, even the town’s carnival procession. Bridgwater Fair turned up with o...
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Prisoners of War

After the loss of the Courageous, the news dried up.  Papers had been censored and the reporting of losses was banned.  The war memorial in King Square tells the story of the many lives lost in that period of conflict.    At home it was German ...
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Women’s Land Army and the War Effort

For the ladies, the war brought fresh opportunities with the demand for war work. For those with secretarial skills, there was work to be done at army bases. With the local factories turning over to the war effort, many housewives went into those factory...
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Air Raids

The first hint of an air raid for Bridgwater came on 1 August 1940 when a Heinkel HE 111 dropped a landmine at Bankland Farm, Northmoor, leaving a huge crater. The impact of the explosion was felt in Bridgwater although no damage was done.
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Home Guard and Returning Heroes

The Home Guard or Land Defence Volunteers was set up in May 1940 to protect the local area from enemy invaders. Bridgwater had its own unit, the 10th Somerset Battalion under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel R Chamberlain, based at the Drill Hall and...
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VE Day

Finally victory came with the fall of Germany and the nation celebrated. The town took on a colourful garb, bedecked in bunting and banners.  Fireworks, dances and kisses on the Cornhill went on well beyond midnight.  Flags hung from every window, the ...
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