THE DORSET COAST (1940-44)

John Jolliffe – Author of this website & https://www.d-day-dorset.uk

The Dorset Coast with Portland, and Portland Harbour in the distance

This photo at the top – shows part of The Dorset Coast with Portland and its harbour in the distance. The Dorset Coast is a wonderful place for walks – you can see the path – the little narrow chalk path – winding and weaving its way along the cliff tops. This will take you all along the coastline – which goes for miles and miles…

Also one can see this photo of the millpond at Langton Matravers (the location of one of the centres of operations) just on the borders of Swanage – here calmly reflecting the light fluffy clouds in its perfectly, peaceful & still waters.

All was peaceful – in the idyllic area of Sandbanks, the other side of the ferry bridge to the Purbeck Hills – at that time a most peaceful area – right on the edge of the spectacularly beautiful Poole Harbour – that was till a very specific date – when a waiter came running breathlessly over from The Sandbanks Hotel nearby – to tell a household on a glorious sunny afternnon – in a small single story corrugated iron constructed dwelling – to announce to this household of a mother and father, two daughters and a son – and a young guest who had cycled over from Bournemouth on her bicycle to join them for tea when still 16 years old – that they had just heard the following on the hotel radio:

We have declared war on Germany.

It was the afterrnoon of Sunday, September 3, 1939.

Little did they know at that time – when war was announced to them whilst they were having tea in their little corrugated iron shack, that they called home – that in the not too distant future – their path to the ferry that took them across to The Purbeck Isle – where they often used to cycle on a Sunday – would be sealed off – with identity cards and official passes required to travel their usual routes – as this would be the perimeter of The US Army Base, and that the harbour would also become a mass of various sea going craft of strange and multifarious desciption, that included flat bottomed landing craft – huge flying boats afloat in the very wide and extensive, yet shallow harbour – with its mile long island in the middle – or that it would be also the scene of periodic, sudden terrifying aerial dogfights close-up – with some planes descending on fire into the water – crashing at breakneck speed – with pilots on occasions clearly seen trying to thrust open cockpits covers which were often jammed from the attack – in terrifying and futile attempts to save themselves.

Little did they know – on that innocent peaceful quiet idyllic and sunny afternoon – overlooking the calm waters of Poole Harbour – that this visit by the out of breath young waiter – was to to herald in the six years of World War II.

Post Script

The contents of this website are factual.

But my interests here have drawn me into making preparations for writing a novel about these times.

My researches into the very moving accounts about people of that war – the detailed journals of the people concerened, and stories from their children, and from those that knew them personally…. have inexorably drawn me into the postion where I find that I am making preparations for writing a novel based in some ways on some of those true accounts, though only a very few of those accounts are referred to on this particular website.

Along with this – I had felt that I had been curiously, irresistibly drawn to these places where the people of that war were based at that time… and during which – I had felt that I had experienced numerous matters of a mytical nature – as if from some kind of attraction to, or of being drawn into a connection with these times.

And yet – of course – to make a complete whole novel, and one with the themes I wanted to exemplify – I have had to be creative with the early draft regarding some of the details, in order to thread it all together. One detailed, specific, and dramatic piece of invention – and a rather unlikely piece of history for D-Day – that I was considering adding to the draft of the novel, …. turned out in fact to be – to my utter amazement… turned out to be actually true to the real events of that time – and almost entirely as I had envisioned it!

Thus this makes me wonder…. ‘what exactly is this sense that I have had of being so drawn to these places and times’ – along with these mystical experiences – other than it might as if the spirit of that place and time has been calling.

© 2020

Website designer, administrator & author

John Jolliffe, MA. PG Dip. MBC PG Dip.