Keep the Home Fires Burning (World War II Stories from Swadlincote and Surrounding Areas), edited by Jen Edgar.
For several months I had this book on a wish list with a second hand book dealer, before I finally decided it was time to buy it.
I’ve long wanted to find out more about the wartime history of my family home-village, Newhall, where I spent my childhood. Swadlincote is the nearest town, and by the time I lived there, village and town had more or less merged into each other.
Located at the southern tip of Derbyshire, Swadlincote is close to the borders of Staffordshire and Leicestershire and was developed around the presence of coal and clay. My family had lived in this area for generations until we moved to Australia in 1971.
I’ve heard a few war time anecdotes from my parents, and I’ve been interesting in finding out more of that war time history beyond those family stories. Disappointingly this book didn’t provide what I’d been hoping for.
Based on personal interviews of residents of the area, the book has been compiled as a collection of memories that haven’t been given any context. They remain as separate, unrelated accounts that could relate to anywhere instead of having any particular local relevance.
For me the most significant aspect of the book was the involvement of students from my former school (William Allitt School, Newhall) in the interviewing process.
I’m sure there would have been many more interesting stories out in the community, sadly stories that are being lost as a war time generation dies out. There would also be a framework of historical events that could have given a collection of anecdotes and memories a logical context. Despite what I’m sure were worthy intentions, I found this book misses those opportunities