When War Came to the Dart
The Dartmouth History Research Group is delighted to announce the publication of When War Came To The Dart, by Hilary Sunman and Gail Ham. The book is the Group's fortieth publication in thirty years and marks the 75th anniversary last year of the end of the Second World War in 1945.
Many members have contributed to the book, which brings together material from the Group's earlier publications about aspects of the war, with memories of local people and some new research, to tell the fascinating and dramatic story of the impact on local people of nearly six years of war.
Several members were children during the war and have contributed vivid memories of that time. The war effort mobilised everyone - young and old, men and women. Many served in the Armed Forces; those not called up formed part of civil defence. Local people looked after hundreds of evacuees and hosted servicemen and women who came to the area; volunteers in the WVS provided support of all kinds for people in distress and ran several service canteens, serving thousands of meals every week.
The book shows how the great deep-water harbour of the Dart, with its historic fortifications in active defensive use, became first a refuge for those fleeing tyranny and occupation in Europe, and then an important base for taking the fight back to the enemy. People from many countries came to the Dart to fight and there were acts of great gallantry and bravery - Commando raids, clandestine missions taking secret agents to and from occupied France, and fierce conflicts in the Channel between the Royal Navy’s Coastal Forces and German E-boats. Then as preparations for D-day intensified, the Dart filled with invasion shipping and thousands of US and other Allied forces filled the area.
But danger and death were never far away. The Dart was targeted several times in bombing raids, killing and injuring men, women and children. The nearby Channel saw many naval and merchant shipping losses from bombing raids and E-boat attacks. As well as civilian casualties, British, Norwegian and Dutch personnel buried in local war graves reflect the cost of the war close at hand, and many names on local war memorials echo the global conflict. In tribute to their sacrifice, the book includes a full Roll of Honour listing all service personnel and civilians commemorated in Dartmouth, Kingswear and Dittisham.
Eight chapters tell the story within a broadly chronological approach: preparations for civil defence and the experience of evacuation; the impact of the catastrophe of 1940; defences implemented in response to the invasion threat; the growing contribution of forces based in the Dart to the "Secret War" and the naval war in the Channel; the effects of German bombing raids 1940-1943; the arrival of US forces in the area in 1943 and the preparations for D-day (including Exercise Tiger); and the final phase of the conflict from the D-day landings in 1944 to eventual victory in 1945. The last chapter traces the local impact of the global conflict through names commemorated on local war memorials.
Drawing on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, and including some previously unpublished material, the book provides a vivid local perspective on the war through the memories of local people and extracts from contemporary accounts such as newspapers, diaries and letters, combined with official records such as war diaries. A bibliography sets out the principal sources.
The 284 page book is in A5 paperback format, printed and bound to high quality standards, and features approximately 30 pages of photographs, maps and other illustrations.
How to Buy
When War Came To The Dart is on sale in the Dartmouth Museum, (the Butterwalk, Duke Street), the Dartmouth Community Bookshop (12 Higher Street), the Tourist Information Centre (Mayor's Avenue), Browser Books (3 Foss Street) and Torre Records (6 The Old Market).
It can also be ordered directly from this website, price £10.00 (£7.00 to members of the Group). To buy, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org