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
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."
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
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
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"
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.
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
of Burton Bradstock Home Guard and Auxiliary Nurses - Source Bridport
also details of wartime shipwrecks in Dorset
troops in Burton Bradstock during WWII Ken Pett
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
story of her time at Burton Bradstock School during the war
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
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
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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