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story is found on page 104 and his wartime medals, both French and British, were left to our community by his family and are displayed in the Sarah Roope Trust Rooms. Kingswear was greatly honoured in 1967 when a considerable delegation from the Free French Association, together with French Naval forces and ships, presented the village with its Medaille D’Argent. This is also on display next to Leon’s medals. No account of Kingswear’s war would be complete without mention of the air raids and bombings. Multiple bombs fell on the village and are highlighted on a colourful map found within the book. The raid that had the most impact on the community was undoubtedly that on the Philip and Son Shipyard at Noss on 18 September 1942. Six Focke-Wulf 190s roared overhead, dropping bombs on boats moored in the river, sinking and damaging several boats and killing a number men. The Naval College was also hit killing a Wren Petty Officer and causing some other injuries. Fortunately the Cadets were not in residence at the time, which helped avert a much more serious disaster. The raid on the shipyard was calamitous however. Landmines, bombs and cannon fire destroyed much of the workshops and other parts of the yard. Fourteen men and three women were killed outright and three more workers died as a result of their wounds. Forty more were injured. To a great extent the Noss workers were back at their posts the next day. The War Records of the day played events down considerably, no doubt to seek a softer blow to morale and describing the Noss attack as ‘some bomb damage and a number of casualties’. A newspaper report at the


time gave the account of a ‘weather-beaten old seaman’ in different terms. His more colourful version appears on page 107 and makes interesting reading! Although rationing had an impact on everyone, I suspect that the fortunate folks of Kingswear fared better than many urban dwellers. Bartering always played a part and knowing a farmer no doubt helped the supply of a little extra butter, milk or cream. Rabbits were plentiful on all the farms and could easily end up boosting any family’s meat ration. And who did not know a fisherman, either amateur or professional? Newspapers are a fascinating historical source and The Dartmouth Chronicle is no exception. Articles describe the arrival of evacuated children from London to both Kingswear and Dartmouth and the safe and welcoming homes that were able to accommodate them. The younger kids went to Kingswear School and Dartmouth educated the older ones. The amazing fundraising efforts on both sides of the Dart were well recognized and reported with enormous enthusiasm, and quite rightly so. The letters pages of any newspaper throw up a large variety of topics. The Chronicle of the war years was little different from today’s contributions. Concerns about the morality and dress code of young ladies to in-depth discussions


Cpl Reeves


about rebuilding the communities after the end of hostilities were there to be read. Mr. Nicholl of The Chalet in Kingswear was a keen ornithologist and passionate about peregrine falcons. The Air Ministry wrote to him to seek his help. This proved to be a real dilemma for Mr. Nicholl as can be appreciated from his letter highlighted on page 150 of Kingswear at War. The last chapter


introduces the state-of- the-art technology of Radar and the highly secret site adjacent to Coleton Fishacre, as well as the gun battery at Froward Point armed with some exWWI warship guns. New military staff was required to guard and man the radar site. Corporal Bernard Reeves was one of the lucky young RAF servicemen. His wife-to-be was living in the adjacent farmhouse! This book is for sale for £8 at Kingswear Stores and Kingswear PO as well as Dartmouth TIC. I am delighted to say that the new Community Bookshop is now stocked as well and selling hard! I hope you enjoy reading Kingswear at War.


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