Dr Terry Stanford. Preparing for the Worst- World War 2. 24th Feb

Terry  earned his Ph.D. for his study of the history of the Metropolitan Police so he was  well prepared to give us a memorable talk, illustrated not by sldes but by bringing with him some amazing artefacts, the most surprising being an enrmous contraption which turned out to be a gas mask for a baby.

He told us how in the run up to the war there was in fact a great deal of preparation carried out, including the doubling of the size of the Met.  This was mainly done by the recall of the recently retired and the refusal of resignations.  This then provided the manpower needed to supervise the wholesale  evacuation of children to new and usually unknown homes around the country and to prepare for the coming of the dreaded blitz..

Then there was the imposition of a blackout, for it was recognised that night time bombers needed to see their targets.  A whole system of street wardens was set up to make sure the blackout rules were enforced and large numbers of police were kept on standby so that they could be rushed to bombed areas to give assistance along with ambulances and firefighters.  One perk for the police was that they were provided with their main meal when on duty which meant their rations went further and kept up morale.

Terry’s talk painted a vivid picture of an extreme and terrifying time when the UK was standing alone before the might of an aggressive and malevolent dictatorship bent on the invasion of England and prevented from doing so only by the men in the fighter aircraft overhead.

John Baxter

 

 

John Drew on the Dorset and Somerset Ambulance Service

Friday 27th January

After our AGM John Crew came to speak to us about the Dorset and Somerset  Air Ambulance Service. In a fascinating, well prepared and illustrated talk he explained how this amazing service works and what an outstanding example of team work and co-operation between various groups, public and private, paid and volunteer, it exemplifies.  Continue reading

The Sinking of the Lancastria. Friday 27th November 2015 a talk by Major David Glossop BEM

The sinking of the Lancastra off St Nazaire in June 1940Certainly most of us had not heard of the Lancastria before, but the story David Glossop had to tell was a sad and shocking tragedy, a catastrophe which has been largely forgotten. It involved the greatest ever loss of life in the sinking of a single British ship, claiming more lives than the combined losses of the RMS Titanic (1,517 passengers and crew) and RMS Lusitania (1,198 passengers). It had also the highest death toll for UK forces in a single engagement in the whole of World War II. Continue reading