On the eve of the Second World War, Watford was a growing center for light industry with close connections to London. These two facts would play an important role in how the ensuing conflict impacted on the lives of the people of the town and its neighbors in South-west Hertfordshire. This book puts into context local experiences by exploring how the dangers and sacrifices of war became everyday reality, and how the people responded through their involvement in the war effort as servicemen and women and as civilians.
The Second World War was total war. Every aspect of everyday life was a contribution to the war effort and every individual, from small children, to women and the elderly, joined those in active military service in propelling the nation to victory. The thorough exploration in this book of both civilian and military life in the area surrounding Watford brings the reader closer to the experiences of the local population during this time of unprecedented challenges. It is a reflection of the uniqueness of this war in being pervasive on everything individuals and communities engaged with.
Local regiments, the Home Guard, women volunteers, the involvement of schools and hospitals, evacuees, conscientious objectors, spies and prisoners of war, all come alive in these pages and tell the story of a town determined to make the most of life and contribute to the common good during the war years. Illustrated with archival and modern photographs, Watford at War 1939-45 is a fascinating read for everyone interested in the social history of the area, as well as readers looking specifically for material on the history of the Second World War at home.
About the Author
Dr Eugenia Russell is an author and Lecturer in History at St Marys University, Twickenham. She has lectured on the history of empires, Renaissance learning and exploration, the Ancient World, art history and political philosophy.
Dr Quentin Russell is a historian, writer and producer. His TV documentary, An Exile in Paradise: The Adventures of Edward Lear in Greece and Albania, won the New York Festival’s Arts Silver Medal in 2009 and was broadcast internationally. He holds a PhD in 19th Century Anglo-Greek relations and his essays have appeared in various prestigious publications such as British Art Journal.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Watford between the Wars 1
Chapter 2 A hush over all Europe 14
Chapter 3 Call to Arms 19
Chapter 4 The War in the Air 49
Chapter 5 On the Defensive 53
Chapter 6 Warriors for the Working Day 83
Chapter 7 The Tide Turns 110
Chapter 8 The Human Cost 128
Chapter 9 Victory 134