Return to War. Bisley and Chalford Civil Parishes 1939 – 1945, by Camilla Boon, Roger Carnt, Heather Collins and Peter Drover (Chalford Parish Local History Group). 420pp, including b&w illustrations. Paperback, £10. Available from the Chalford Parish Centre, 50 Geralds Way, Chalford, Stroud GL6 8JF and from the Gloucestershire Family History Society’s shop at The Heritage Hub, Alvin Street, Gloucester. To order a copy by post, contact Roger Carnt on 01453 884247.
This book is a companion volume to A Parish at War – Brownshill, Bussage, Chalford and France Lynch 1914-1919 which was expanded to include the villages of Bisley, Eastcombe and Oakridge Lynch. It is a culmination of four years of research by the authors.
The book combines aspects of social, local and family history during this timeframe. The layout flows from individual records of the Fallen and Survivors to life on the home front. Each section is easy to read and provides a wealth of information.
A starting point for the book is a description of the parishes between the wars. Life was not easy but there were some improvements which are listed and described in the words of the villagers. In fact throughout the book, direct comments from villagers, newspapers, letters and military records provide a personal addition to the writing.
The individual records of the Fallen and Survivors are grouped according to the Theatre of Battle. The records discuss their relationship to the villages, participation in the war and a photograph. A goldmine for any family historian.
Back in the villages, life was changing and the book records how they adapted to this change. The children and their schools became involved with the war effort through fundraising, salvage of items and knitting. It discusses the effects of the war on the children, their reflections and their class photographs.
The authors expanded their research to include the interactions of other organisations and groups with the villages. These include Aston Down, prisoners of war, internees and the Americans with sections on local air force crashes and the resulting deaths.
Not to be forgotten is the role of women in this period. This was in national organisations, such as the Women’s Land Army, and locally which are described throughout the book. The role of women encompassed the management of the home, replacement of men in civilian posts and organising civilian efforts.
The authors have written a book that discusses the societal changes during this timeframe and its effects on the Bisley and Chalford civil parishes. The sections include historical references, memories and photographs. It will be of interest to local and family historians.