South Dorset in the Great War


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"There have been so many books about the Great War that any new one has to throw up significant new information or have a special angle. This one, in a quiet way, does both"
Nigel Melville, The Chesil magazine

"The author has a gift for picking out tales of the enduring nature of human spirit"
Joanna Davis, Dorset Echo 

"Congratulations on such a well researched and beautifully produced book"
Bob Barber, Somerset and Dorset Family History Society

"You have unearthed some priceless human stories of life and emotions in WW1"
Stuart Morris, author of 'Portland: An Illustrated History'

"Written in a pacy and engaging style, this book captures the flavour of life on the home front" John Broom, author of 'Fight the Good Fight - Voices of Faith from the First World War'

"Jacqueline Wadsworth uses stories she discovered in local archives, newspaper,s and old family letters and diaries to give a colourful account of what life was like on the island for ordinary people" 
Free Portland News

"The most comprehensive account yet of home life in South Dorset during the Great War" Foyles Bookshop

WHEN WAR WAS declared in 1914, the people of South Dorset were taken by surprise. Initially, there was excitement as the garrison town of Dorchester sprang to life and Britain's Grand Fleet steamed from Portland Harbour to its war stations in the North Sea. But when the fervour subsided, what was it like for ordinary people? This book describes how they settled down with purpose to a life at war...

Women volunteered for Red Cross work, traders made the most of new markets, and mothers learned to cope not only with food shortages and blackouts, but the constant fear that their loved ones wouldn't return. Children saved their pennies to send 'comforts' to the troops, and everyone did their best to keep the home fires burning.

Read about the extensive prisoner of war camp established on the edge of Dorchester to house German captives; the wounded Australian soldiers who were sent to recover in Weymouth, where they became firm favourites with the ladies; and the soldiers billeted in Portland homes who didn't always treat their hosts with the respect they deserved.  Also included in the book are the stories of:
  • A German spy who slipped through the net at Wyke
  • Scandal at a local military hospital
  • The touching friendship that developed between a nurse and a wounded Belgian soldier
  • What everyday life was like for one worker at Weymouth Torpedo Works
  • The tragic accident in which a teenage soldier was shot dead by his friend at an army barracks
Using contemporary letters, diaries and newspaper stories, and illustrated by almost 100 photos, this book gives warm account of life in Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland during the Great War, ensuring the people at home who lived through those dreadful years of conflict are remembered, too.

John Broom, author of 'Fight the Good Fight - Voices of Faith from the First World War
Written in a pacy and engaging style, this book brings together a number of characters, incidents and anecdotes which not only reflect on the multi-layered story of South Dorset’s military involvement in the war, but capture the flavour of life on the home front. Jacqueline shows how the war was no respecter of social class, recounting the stories of families left grieving both in working class slums and the impressive country house of the Pope family, owners of the large Eldridge Pope brewery in Dorchester.
It is richly illustrated, containing over a hundred images, and makes a fascinating read for all those who have connections with the area, readers interested in military history, and people who feel a connection with the lives of people in a past which has now passed from living memory.
After reading this book, I shall visit a familiar area with a fresh perspective, peeling back the decades to connect with the people who walked the streets of South Dorset a hundred years ago."

The Dorset Echo
This insightful book centres the reader in this part of Dorset for the outbreak, conflict and after-effects of the Great War. It cleverly uses diaries, letters and newspaper reports to depict how residents felt as their way of life drastically changed. 

Wadsworth has a gift for picking out tales of the enduring nature of human spirit. She uses the diaries of the four Sneyd-Kynnersley sisters of Weymouth to show how people found courage they never knew they had. The affluent Snyed-Kynnersleys sisters, who lived at Greenhill, all volunteered as Red Cross nurses, giving up their round of leisure activities to take on roles that would challenge, stimulate and satisfy them. 

Wadsworth's thorough research means that no stone has been left unturned in evoking the feel of the Great War in Dorset. There are some interesting little snippets in this book like posters showing how Portlanders rallied round to help starving Serbian children and how novelist Thomas Hardy helped with the war effort. Having known this area well having family living here, Bristol author Wadsworth evokes the feel of Weymouth, and expertly. The dark side of life on the homefront is not shied away from; with amusing anecdotes about drunken Australian soldiers making their way home turning to tragedy as one soldier, who was found to be perfectly sober, drowning in Weymouth harbour because of poor lighting due to military restrictions. 

Wadsworth has produced a poignant overview of wartime and its aftermath peppered with little gems like the tale of a friendship between a Weymouth nurse and a wounded Belgian soldier.

The Greenwood Tree (journal of The Somerset & Dorset Family History Society)
This book describes in words and many pictures from local collections what life was like in south Dorset for those that ‘stayed behind’, particularly women ... Lots of illustrations ... Superb photographs of the Whiteheads Torpedo factory ...  great background information for researchers.

Also in the same series

Published by Pen and Sword Books

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