Wartime memories from Southwell folk

Keep Smiling Through, Southwelll and District at war 1939-45 by Roger Dobson.
Keep Smiling Through, Southwelll and District at war 1939-45 by Roger Dobson.

Memories of the Second World War in and around Southwell and the Mansfield district have been rekindled in a new book charting the impact of the conflict in the area.

Former schoolteacher Roger Dobson has written a new book ‘Keep Smiling Through - Southwell and District at War 1939-45, which is packed with first hand accounts photographs and illustrations of the war years.

Roger, 74 from Southwell interviewed more than 130 elderly people, including former evacuees to the area from as far afield as London over the four years he researched the book.

He said: “The local history society asked me to research about the effects of the war on Southwell and surrounding areas and to find people who had strong memories of what happened, basically while they were still people alive to talk to.”

The book syhows how the whole area’s population was in flux during the wartime years, with thousands of people displaced from around the UK.

Roger said: “In the early years many army divisions were billeted in Sherwood forest, Southwell and neighbouring villages.

“The area was flooded with servicemen RAF and Army. There were Home Guard battalions and ARP wardens and prisoners of war from Germany and Italy.

“It was regarded by the Government as a relatively safe area. For instance there were 8,000 evacuees who moved here from Southend on Sea and we managed to track them down.”

The book also covers women in war work and the wartime classroom.