New book captures Branscombe’s wartime history

Wartime Branscombe residents outside the Forge

Wartime Branscombe residents outside the Forge - Credit: Archant

The wartime history of Branscombe has come to the page in a new book that will be launched this weekend, supported by works from a renowned artist.

Branscombe’s War was written in an effort to capture the stories of those who experienced the parish between 1939 and 1945, while they are still around.

Penned by Sue Dymond – with contributions from Ralph Cox, Gary Rivers and Barbara Farquharson – the book benefits from the long-running efforts of the Branscombe Project.

Sue said: “Every town and village has its own story to tell of the war years and time is fast running out for us to get help telling the story from those around at that time.

“There was never a dull moment in Branscombe and villagers were always busy helping the war effort and having fun while doing so.

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“Not being bombed or making headline news doesn’t mean there is no story to tell.”

The book reveals, for example, that before war was even declared, 25 evacuees from London and their teacher had arrived in the village.

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Branscombe was soon bustling with evacuees, American GIs and members of ‘Churchill’s secret army’, who were welcomed with open arms.

But the village had a darker side – it was home to the leader of the fascist Blackshirts in Devon, as well as a number who had been interned.

The book is having its official launch in the village hall on Sunday (June 30) from 2.30pm, when it will be on sale at a discounted price.

The event will also feature an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Terry Raybould, an evacuee who returned to the village after the war to paint local scenes.

His work was among the collections of Sir John Betjeman and Kingsley Amis. There will also a selection of World War Two exhibitions on display. Entry is free.

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