David brought momentoes of World War 2 – shrapnel, bullets, window (radar confusing strip) – & his talk was based on family recollections & research. His career in local newspapers gave him a good grounding & he has written a book on the subject. He interviewed women who were in the Land Army. Scrapbooks in the Surrey History Centre containing newspaper cuttings annotated with detailed notes were invaluable in adding information to the restrictions imposed on papers. A bomb map for Guildford, helped confirm local opinion. Most bombs were dropped north east to south west & it is thought many were jettisoned randomly. People lost their lives from bombing but reports of damage were upbeat.
Guildford had barracks, now housing, depot of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment & a training centre. Dennis Brothers made tanks, pumps & fire engines, staff almost doubling to around 6000. David’s mother operated a drilling machine & was a Fire Watcher in her spare time. German air photos showed factories, including Dennis’s, but it was not bombed. Merrow Home Guard included artist, Ernest Sheppard, who illustrated Winnie The Pooh books. Children collected bits of bombs and bullets which just fell from the skies during air battles. The infamous raid on Brooklands was one event. Unexploded bombs were another menace: some people charged spectators to look at these to raise money for the RAF. The military build up to D-Day concentrated soldiers along the North Downs. If it failed then this could have been the final battle line for England. In May 1944 Montgomery came to address troops at Aldbury Heath and with persistence from an elderly woman who recalled this event a plaque now records the visit. Just outside Guildford, near the Golf Club, was POW Camp 57; it first housed Italian POWs, who worked locally on farms. The Germans POWs were kindly treated by the British, Bert Trautmann, the well known goal keeper remarked on this. Once the POWs had gone, British people moved in -there was a severe housing shortage. There were VE & VJ Day parties. Survivals – the dragons teeth & pillboxes – are now under threat from re-development: perhaps information plaques could be introduced to tell the story.