In June 1944 the largest armada in history left the coast of England for the shores of France with the hope of this being the beginning of the end of the Second World War. Those that already lived here saw massive changes to their once quiet forest as the New Forest played a vital role in this epic endeavour by giving a home to the thousands of troops about to leave our shores, many of them never to return.
The New Forest Remembers WWII project has recorded over 90 hours of oral history interviews, the majority of them conducted by volunteer members of the project’s Oral History Team. Edited highlights of these interviews and their full transcriptions are being uploaded to the project’s online archive, a digital archive holding a raft of documents, photos, film footage and archaeological data all relating to the New Forest During the Second World War.
Two of the team’s volunteers have produced three podcasts visiting the memories of those that lived, worked and played in the Forest in the build up to D-Day.
Episode 1 – The Forest in the War
The war begins, evacuees, bomb shelters, gas masks and rationing. Troops and the Americans arrive, the Forest became less quiet. But hush it’s SECRET!
Episode 2 – The Build up of Troops
It’s all change here in the Forest. Troops and equipment start to arrive to setup camps, airfields are constructed and life changes for everyone.
Episode 3 – D Day
“Something’s going on”. Tanks, trucks, artillery, troops, noise. Roads filling up, convoys of vehicle for hours, queues for petrol everywhere. Then it all went quiet… D-Day had happened!
© New Forest National Parks Authority.
Images courtesy of The Imperial War Museum.