World War 2 documents can give a fascinating view into Dorset's modern history, and come in a range of media, from large posters to personal letters. The widespread impact of WW2 is seen across the archives, with documents relating to WW2 in multiple collections.

Take a look at the lists of documents relating to World War 2; American GI's; evacuation; and the Women's Land Army. Contact us if you would like to find out more information or take a look at the original documents.

General World War 2 resources

A list of general World War 2 resources
Reference number Date Description of documents
D-1171/1/2 1927-1948 Dorset Daily Echo 8th May 1945; Centre spread of pictures of Dorset during the war and on D-day.
D-1027 Circa 1940 Leaflets explaining the care of sick persons under emergency conditions, and what to do in the event of invasion
D-1705/1/3 1940 Identity card of Ernest Kingman Cook of Weymouth
D-BTM/F/4/3 1939-1945 Leaflet on the use of green vegetables; Wartime recipes, including stinging nettles.
DSA/40/1/1 1994 Audio interview with Alasdair Ferguson, detailing his experiences as a Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve Officer in charge of landing craft at Dieppe in 1942 and D-day in 1944.
DSA/58/1/1 1994 Audio interview with Leslie Walker of Bournemouth, discussing memories of his service in RAF bombers, including actions in support of D-day.
DSA/68/1/1 1994 Audio interview with Reverend Stephen Harvey of Lytchett Matravers, detailing memories of his service as a military padre during WW2 and participation in D-day landings.
D-412/1 1939-1953  War time Ration books of Katherine Escott of Dorchester.
D-1293/1/3-6  1940-1943 Extracts from the diaries of a schoolboy during WW2; notice on use of sandbags against incendiary bombs.
W-19/1 1939-1945 War Record book produced by local Women's Institutes, containing descriptions of some Dorset parishes in time of war

American GI's in Dorset

Many people forget that, during World War 2, the UK hosted the troops of allied forces, particularly during the European advance. American hospitals and camps were set up across the country, and Dorset was no exception. This interaction with American personnel was recorded by multiple individuals, and gives us a real insight into the relationships created by hospitals like the one at  Kingston Lacy.

A list of documents about American GI's in Dorset during WW2
Reference number Date Description of documents
D-444/1 1926-1945 A bundle of war-time literature, including a Guide to Britain for members of the American Expeditionary Force.
DSA/204/1/1 April 2001 Audio recording of interview with Gillian Blake of Wimborne (born 1936), giving details of her school days in Wimborne and impressions of the American Army Hospital at Kingston Lacy and the Americans that helped her after an accident.
Acc10288 20th century  Photos and documents relating to the Kingston Lacy American Army hospital during World War 2.
D.1904/2 Circa 1939-1945 Bartholomew's revised half-inch contoured map of Dorset with hand drawn annotations, possibly showing American military bases.
D-2584 20th century Items collected by Robin Pearce author of "The Blue, the Gray and the Big Red One: the training and marshalling of Force 'O' prior to D-Day", "Dorset Attacked, Dorset Defended : A Historical Guide To Some Of The Places Of Interest Connected With World War II" and "Seven Months To D-Day : An American Regiment In Dorset".
DSA/204/1/3 1994 Audio recording of Interview with Monica Hoare of Hampreston [born 1928]. Memories of the American Army Hospital at Kingston Lacy and life in wartime Wimborne.
Ph.850 20th century Photocopy of Declassified report of the work of the American Naval Base at Portland.
D-BKL/E/Q/52 20 Apr 1944 to 3 June 1944 Correspondence about a claim for damage to buildings at Newtown, Parkstone caused by American tanks.
DSA/205/1/1 Feb 2002 Audio recording of interview regarding memories of Mrs M L Joyce's life. Including life as a maid, work in Blandford, the American Army Hospital at Kingston Lacy, life at Pamphill. 
DSA/34/1/1 1994 Audio recording of interview with Allan Stevens; Memories of the Second World War, declaration of war and attitudes, digging trenches at school, lessons at school (how school was billeted by another school.)  Expectations of evacuees (expecting to find a bunch of bumpkins with no education) and locals surprised that so many hadn't seen cows.  Talking about raids on Sherborne and Weymouth.  (Went as a medic to both places.) Attitude towards Americans and issues of racism, especially when on door for American dances and refusing to stop black soldiers entering, much to the chagrin of the white Americans

Evacuees and evacuation

We have a substantial amount of information about the evacuation process, predominantly regarding evacuees coming to Dorset from more urban areas such as Southampton, as well as many audio accounts from evacuees within the Dorset Sound Archive (DSA) collection. Please be aware that access to some personal information from this period is restricted due to Data Protection.

A list of documents about Evacuees and Evacuation

Reference number Date Description of documents
DC-PL/I/5/5/2 July 1939-March 1949 Bundle of leaflets and ephemera relating to World War II, including Public Information Leaflet no. 3 concerning evacuation.
D-PLR/Z/5 [no date] Notes obtained by Jews in England from friends in Germany concerning Nazi's views on British evacuation scheme.
DSA/5/1/1 1993 Audio recording of interview with  Edna Bolton, including memories of her experiences as an evacuee from London to Motcombe during the Second World War.
DSA/168/1 1997 Audio recording of various memories at Centre for Evacuee Studies, University of Reading.
S-117/12/6 1938-1939 Bridport General Schools Papers concerning air raid precautions and evacuation.
DSA/163/1 1996 Audio recording of interview with Joan Miles, including her experiences as an evacuee from Southampton to Dorset during WW2
PE-STG/MI/3 1938-1945 Letters, notes and circulars concerning air raid precautions in schools, evacuees, invasion instructions, Home Guard, local defence committees, first aid points, citizens advice bureau, rubbish and salvage collection, civil and military exercises, prisoners of war, gas attacks and road transport.
DC-PL/I/5/1/5 Early 1940s Reception schedule for Government Evacuation Scheme- Produced by Southampton County Borough. Includes names of schools, number of pupils evacuated, train arrival times to Poole and suggested linking schools in the Borough of Poole.
S-226/12/1 11 June 1940 Letter concerning the reception in Bournemouth of French troops evacuated from Flanders, also including photographs in S-226/11/7

Women's Land Army

Initially created in World War 1, The Women's Land Army (WLA) was resurrected in World War 2 to do the agricultural work required to keep the country running. With many supply ships being blockaded by German U-boats and much of the male workforce away fighting in the war, the work that the WLA did was vital for the effort on the home front. As with many other counties, Dorset had its own WLA, so we are fortunate enough to have some records and first-hand accounts of the work of the WLA and its impact.

A list of documents about the Women's Land Army

Reference number Date Description of documents
D-1200/1/5 June 1941-Feb 1943 Day book with Agricultural wages for 1942, including the Women's Land Army.
D-1372/1 1937-1953 Video tape made from a cine film made by Charles Fripp of life in Wimborne. Includes c. 1940 Land Army women working on the harvest at Leigh Vineries, c. 1941 Land Army women at work, milking a cow and threshing.
D-BTM/F/6/1 1948-1950 Papers and photographs of Dawn Gould (née Yardy) of Weymouth relating to her service with the Women's Land Army, her marriage to Egon Heinrich, a German POW and field names at Melplash Court Farm.
DSA/49/1/1 April 1994 Audio recording of interview with Gwendoline Hampton of Upwey - Memories of the Women's Land Army in Dorset during the Second World War.
DSA/63/1/1 April 1994 Audio recording of interview with Lois Hyde of Sturminster Marshall Memories of the Women's Land Army in Dorset during the Second World War.
DSA/64/1/1 April 1994 Audio recording of interview with Nora Norris of Bradford on Avon, Wilts- Memories of the Dorset Women's Land Army during the Second World War
DSA/65/1/1 April 1994 Audio recording of interview with Joan Shakesheff of Bournemouth- Memories of the Women's Land Army in Warwickshire during the Second World War. 

These are by no means exhaustive lists of documents relating to World War 2, so if this has piqued your interest why not search our catalogue for more documents, or contact us to arrange a visit with your class to view the documents themselves (where possible).

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