Tag Archives: Word War II

Latimer House: Listening to the Enemy

Latimer House is in a beautiful setting, clearly visible on the top of a hill from the Chesham to Rickmansworth road. It was the ancestral home of Lord Chesham. However, the Government requisitioned it shortly before the war and converted it into an emergency hospital specifically for the Metropolitan Police.

It was envisaged that the expected air raids would cause large scale casualties, not only to civilians, but also on-duty police. Despite the horrors of the ‘Blitz’, it was very much underutilised. However, as the War Department began to realise that its location and layout would be ideal for other uses, they increased their take-over from part of the house to all of it and the extensive estate.

Lord Chesham had no choice other than to move out and he purchased the village rectory. Little did he know that neither he nor his family would live in Latimer House again.

Read more of this article in The Secret County: Buckinghamshire Reflects on WW2

The Last of the Many

Buckinghamshire can be proud of its contribution to the WWII effort in so many ways: food and military equipment production, the secret war waged at some of Buckinghamshire’s stately homes, military bases including Bomber Command and military units such as the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry.

Most significantly, as far as this article is concerned, Buckinghamshire produced the iconic Hawker Hurricane at Langley near Slough (now part of Berkshire).

Read more of this article in The Secret County: Buckinghamshire Reflects on WW2

Defending Bletchley

Buried deep in the secret archives of the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), was a map that shows a different perspective of the Bletchley Park story to those reported and dramatised in books, films and documentaries.

The map shows cycle and foot routes, that members of the workforce at Bletchley Park would have patrolled when on duty with Bletchley Park’s dedicated Home Guard unit. Alan Turing himself trained to be a member of the Home Guard so he could learn to fire a rifle, but then was not required to conduct any duties as, according to some sources, he intentionally filled in the paper work incorrectly.

Read more of this article in The Secret County: Buckinghamshire Reflects on WW2

Buckinghamshire’s Dambuster

When we think of war graves, images come to mind of headstones arrayed in the foreign fields of Flanders, spread throughout Europe or the desert sands of North Africa to the hillsides of Burma’s ‘Green Hill’. The oceans have their own poignancy, enfolding thousands of sailors, asleep in the deep.

The well-ordered cemeteries evoke the essence of sacrifice and provide a focal point for pilgrimage to honor the fallen. And yet, in the quiet villages and bustling towns and cities of Britain, can be found occasional white headstones, singly or in small groups, marking the passing of a serviceman or woman, often from the local community.

One such headstone can be found in St. Michael & All Angels Church, Halton Village, near Wendover. It bears the name of Group Captain Ivan Whittaker OBE DFC and Bar.

Read more of this article in The Secret County: Buckinghamshire Reflects on WW2

Goodnight Mister Tom

Goodnight Mr Tom Poster

‘This beautiful play is a roller-coaster of emotion.’

Written by David Wood from the novel by Michelle Magorian, Goodnight Mister Tom tells the story of young London boy William Beech, evacuated to Dorset during WW2 to escape from the bombing.

William (Alex Taylor-McDowall) is lodged with Mr Tom Oakley (David Troughton) and his dog Sammy. Mr Tom is portrayed as a slightly gruff widower, who soon realises that William has been physically and mentally abused.

As the relationship develops he helps him to read and write and encourages him to make friends with fellow evacuee, Zach: a fun-loving and humorous boy.

William’s mother asks for him to return home to London, only for him to be abused again and discover he has a baby sister. Tom writes to William but gets no reply and, suitably worried, travels to London to find him tied up under the stairs with his dead sister in his arms.

William is sent to hospital to recover. Faced with the threat of an orphanage for William, Tom rescues him and takes him back to Dorset. The authorities eventually agree that Tom can adopt William, to everyone’s delight. William also endures being told of the subsequent death of his mother and his best friend Zach, when Zach goes back to London to see his sick father.

This is a sad tale of a young boy suffering abuse from a deranged mother, and finding a loving family and developing wonderful friendships. You are also able to understand Mr Tom’s life and the death of his own wife and baby son. On several occasions you can sense the raw emotion, accompanied by complete silence from the audience.

Bryan Parker and Laurence Doyle

Watch this play at the following theatres:

Woking New Victoria Theatre 19 – 23 Apr 2016

Theatre Royal Bath 26 – 30 Apr 2016

With thanks to Alison Trimming at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre