If War Should Come
Defence Preparations on the South Coast, 1935-1939
Date of publication: July 2011
Publisher: The History Press
When Britain declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939, it did not come as a surprise. Hitler's remilitarisation and repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles sounded a warning bell for what was to follow. Philip MacDougall here examines what steps the British government took to prepare the country for the war they knew was coming.
Focusing on the front-line counties of Hampshire, Sussex and Kent, the author reveals a shocking story of lost opportunity and incompetence. How was it possible that in a decade or so of preparation, important and vulnerable military targets such as Chatham, Portsmouth and Southampton were left virtually unprotected? Why, in a failed evacuation scheme, were thousands of children taken from the larger towns of the south coast and placed in areas of even greater danger? Using original research, MacDougall looks at plans for the emergency services, food supplies, the ARP, dispersal of industry and government, and how effective these preparations were after the outbreak of war. This is a must-read book for anyone interested in British history during the late 1930s and early '40s, and for local historians in these three counties.