Our Land at War: A Portrait of Rural Britain 1939-45
By Duff Hart-Dav vis
(WWilliam Collins, 464 pages, £20) TThis fascinating social history boook looks at the lives of people livving in the British countryside duuring and immediately after thhe Second World War.
The author has drawn on diiaries, letters, books, official reecords and interviews to create a highly readable and evocative poortrait of rural life at a pivotal pooint in time. Meticulously researched,ese it describes a variety of ffactors that brought irreevocable change to rural areas as a result of the conflict.
DDuring the war, there was a hugge influx of people into the couuntryside including Land Girrls and Lumber Jills, prisoners of war, British soldiers, AAmerican GIs aand young evvacuees from the citties, all of whom hadd an impact on the llives of country dwelllers. Large counttry houses were requisiitioned by the army, unceremoniously evicting their gentry owners.
Whole communities also had to give up their homes if they lived in an area earmarked for military training, such as at Slapton in Devon. Land, too, was commandeered for use as airfields. Perhaps the greatest change was in farming itself, which was made more efficient through machinery, altering the old way of life forever.
If your parents or grandparents lived in rural Britain during the Second World War, this book is essential background reading.
Michelle Higgs is an author
specialising in social history
and family history