Few could believe that within twenty years of the war to end all wars being won the world was once again at war. Veterans of the Great War feared going through the same thing again and, even worse, many knew that this time their children would also be involved in the fighting. What had all the sacrifice been about?
Cambridgeshire, the city of Cambridge and the University of Cambridge were badly hit by the Great War with many lives lost, families ripped apart and a way of life that had changed forever. Building and economic recovery had been hindered by the Great Depression. The county was not ready to face another war nor for the problems of warfare in the air. Yet somehow the county, the city and the university all found the strength to unite against the enemy once more and ensure that Germany would never win the war.
The book chronicles life on the Home Front during the Second World War, which itself reached into every home and affected every citizen, changing the life and the face of the county. It is also a timely reminder of the difficulties, hardships, restrictions and morale faced by the city as the war dragged on, and how the local community overcame the odds that were stacked against them.
I really enjoy the books in this series and this one was a pleasure to read, as I have said in previous reviews for books in the series, the photographs and the captions that illustrate the series are what makes the books in the series so special to read for me.
This book focuses not only on the effects of the War on Cambridge and the University there, it also has a strong focus on the towns and villages too. I love the insight that is given to the social history of the time, the work that would have been done on the land, the farming industries and how the local people would have foraged and eaten the produce from the land such as birds and rabbits to enhance the rations that they would have been given.
The biggest impact for the area was quite evidently the amount of air bases that appeared over the county (although as the author does point out that modern Cambridgeshire was not formed until 1974). There was a strong presence of RAF and latterly USAAF which greatly increased the number of people. I liked the descriptions and details of the air bases and some of the incidents and accidents that happened where quite sad and shocking when you read about the losses of life. We normally visit Duxford (now the home of the Imperial War Museum) for their air shows each year so it was great to see and read what it would have been like as a fully operational base.
I found that the author allows the reader to step back in time and experience what it would have been like during this period. The book was well researched and well written and I found it to be an easy read – the author clearly knows her topic and I did stop in a few places to share some of the things that were mentioned and the quotes with my husband.
It is 5 stars from me for this one – very highly recommended – I thought that it was a great read and a great insight into what it would have been like in the towns and villages around Cambridge too – I enjoyed that the focus was not just on the city. I have another book in the series to read by this author on Derbyshire over the same period so can’t wait to get stuck in to that one now!!