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Today, Dorset is considered by many to be the archetypal rural English county. However, in the Second World War, Dorset was front-line territory in the struggle with Nazi Germany, whose forces lay just across the English Channel in occupied France. As the tide of war turned in the Allies’ favour, Dorset played a crucial role in the Normandy Landings, and ultimate victory.
In this 85-minute documentary, Dorset historian and author Colin Pomeroy conducts a tour of the county’s war sites, some of which are very well known, while others are now virtually forgotten. Illustrated extensively by rare archive photographs, maps and drawings, this historical journey begins at Portland, where remnants of the Mulberry Harbour that fuelled the Normandy Invasion still stand. The tour continues to Weymouth, the embarkation point for thousands of American soldiers, and then Chesil Beach, which had been heavily defended earlier in the war, when it was feared that a Nazi invasion could strike at Lyme Bay.
Other highlights include visits to Tyneham Village, where American troops trained in readiness for the invasion of the continent; Warmwell aerodrome, from where Spitfires defended Britain, and USAAF Lightnings took the fight to the enemy; and St Aldhelm’s Head, where TRE Worth Matravers performed such vital work in the development of radar.
Dorchester, Lyme Regis, Winyard’s Gap, Sherborne, Blandford Forum, Bournemouth, Poole and Studland are also among the locations visited in this tribute to an extraordinary period in Dorset’s history.