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Somerset’s contribution to the Second World War was extremely varied, and in this film you will see a wide range of locations which illustrate this diversity.
You will see coastal defences at places like Brean Down and Steep Holm; pillboxes built throughout the county to bog down the Germans if they had invaded; how the town of Glastonbury prepared for occupation by enemy troops; Burnham-on-Sea’s connection with the Mulberry Harbours; Barrage Balloon trials on the Pawlett Hams; how explosives were produced at the Royal Ordnance Factory; how the first jet aircraft entered service with the RAF at Culmhead; and why the Taunton area was crucial to the defence of the West Country.
You will also see how naval fighter pilots were trained at Yeovilton, while anti-aircraft gunners learnt their skills at Doniford and tank crews near Minehead. There are features on Downside Abbey School, the scene of one of the most tragic incidents of the entire war; Double Hills, where the first casualties of Arnhem perished; the military prison at Shepton Mallet, where the Americans executed some of their own soldiers; and Pilton, to recognise the vital role of the Women’s Land Army. There are also tributes to the important contribution played by the town of Yeovil to wartime aviation; and the airfields at Weston Zoyland and Merryfield, from where the American airborne forces took part in the invasion of Normandy. It is also revealed that Weston-super-Mare and Bath experienced the worst of the bombing on the county.
Written and presented by Somerset-based historian and author Henry Buckton, this documentary is packed with eye-witness accounts, remarkable archive material and spectacular modern film.