Burton Bradstock in World War II

"Even our small village of Burton Bradstock was directly affected by the war. As in the 1914-1918 conflict, the village lost a large number of men and one woman as can be seen from the Roles of Honour below.

The village was right in the middle of Hitler's target area for invasion and, later on in the war, the south coast became host to many thousands of British, American and Canadian troops leading up to the D-Day landings.

American Rangers ( see also http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205200847) and British Commandos (see alsohttp://www.warrelics.eu/forum/history-research-USA-britain-ww2/ww2-burton-bradstock-336153) (scroll down to see item) used the area to practice beach landings and cliff climbing during the weeks prior to D-Day. The Rangers had two camps, one to the east and one to the west of the village, whilst the Commandos were billeted in the village itself. We are sadly missing information/photographs etc. of the British Commandos who were here during the war - we would very much welcome anything readers might be able to lend to us, so we can present a more balanced view of activities at the time.

Here are some records (and a short film clip) of events in and around Burton Bradstock, that we have so far found of that time.

We have very few artifacts in the village that were left from the war, but we do have a gun emplacement/pill box overlooking Hive Beach. Also, there are two large concrete milk loading stands, one outside Manor Farm in the High Street and one outside the old Shadrach Dairy Farm in Mill Street. These were originally tank blocks that could be rolled out across the road in the event of an invasion. Our enterprising farmers soon found another use for them, (presumably after the danger of an invasion had passed)! Included below are some sound clips of an interview with Janet Guppy who lived in the village during the war.

Brad King's overview below really sets out Burton Bradstock's involvement in the war."


Index:

Article on Burton Bradstock in the war by Brad King (Imperial War Museum) - Introductory article on Burton Bradstock in the war by Brad King - Brad has worked at the Imperial War Museum for 21 years. An aviation historian, he has written many articles on the subject and is author of an aclaimed book on the Royal Naval Air Service. Since August 2000 he has been on a one-year secondment to Bridport Museum, helping to develop its services. He and his family are frequent visitors to Burton Bradstock

Extracts and photographs from "Wartime Dorset - the Complete History" written by Rodney Legg and published by The Dorset Publishing Company. (Includes several photos of mainly US troops who were based here during the war)

Contributions from Bridport Museum

A number of other US troop photos published with kind permission of the Dorset Natural History & Archaeological Society.

Burton Bradstock at War by kind permission of the BBC - an extract from BBC 2 Coast Series 8 "The Secret Life of Sea Cliffs"

A short film kindly provided by the Imperial War Museum of assault troops landing on Hive Beach using rockets to establish ladders for climbing the cliffs

Some film & sound clips of interviews with Janet Guppy of her memories of the village in the war. Film interview by BBC, an audio interview by David Powell/Jim Reeves. Editing by Humphrey Walwyn.

Roles of Honour 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 Notes on all the villagers who are commemorated on the Roles of Honour in the School and the Church - Jon Wyatt

Photos of Burton Bradstock Home Guard and Auxiliary Nurses - Source Bridport Museum

See also details of wartime shipwrecks in Dorset

British troops in Burton Bradstock during WWII Ken Pett

Lionel Bailey's diary of his wartime posting and imprisonment by the Japanese - Jim Reeves/Ken Pett

Norman Webber's wartime experiences - Dunkirk - North Africa - Italy - Ray West

Elizabeth Gale's story of her time at Burton Bradstock School during the war

Videos and records of commemorations of D-Day and VJ-Day

World War II Reminiscences Of Burton Bradstock Veterans - Susan Moores

Short story about the Home Guard (source unknown)

Major William Townley Whetham of 67 Victoria Grove, Bridport, the pre-war commander of the Bridport Rifles, formed a Town Guard. The determined septuagenarian found other old soldiers who were beyond call-up age and launched an
appeal for funds to buy rifles. Calling themselves the Bridport Company they later opened the ranks to younger non-military volunteers and became ‘a broader civil defence corps that could respond to any emergency.’ Captain J. Suttill and
Second-Lieutenant F.W. Knight were its principal officers.

There were moments of hilarity. One band of coast watchers at Seatown went to sleep on the job and were put to shame by having their fish dinner stolen from under their noses. Constant rumours of U- boats surreptitiously slipping into the inhospitable shore around Lyme Regis for supplies, all proved groundles,s but in the process wasted much police time. The only alleged traitor caught on the cliffside turned out to be a fossil collector. Similar false alarms came from the watch ships in Lyme Bay which kept an eye on the shore as well as shipping movements in the English Channel. Their sighting of someone at Eype who was signalling to U-boats in Morse code was found to be a lady ‘arranging her tresses before retiring to bed, oblivious of the fact that she had not drawn the blind.’

A harmless crippled man attracted suspicion after making his home in the empty Coastguard Station at Burton Bradstock. One evening he was being kept under police surveillance when a military unit was alerted to something strange going on. They sealed off the coast road and arrested cyclists and pedestrians passing through the village. Among their catch was the police sergeant from Bridport who headed eastwards when he received a secret message that his constable from Burton Bradstock was missing. On his own initiative the man had decided to keep watch upon the disabled man in the Coastguard Station and had himself been observed hiding in the bushes. He was then watched by soldiers. When Sergeant Frank Bishop peddled towards him they closed the net. The muddle was not resolved — and the policemen and other suspects released — until two o’clock in the morning.


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