The Midhurst WW2 Memoirs Project
This long term, project is documenting the life and times during WW2 of the Midhurst Rural District of West Sussex. Its story line comes from the memories of a young evacuee there from London. His own story line is used as the thread for the many remarkable and unexpected, back stories of the times.
WW2 was the most traumatic period for the Midhurst District. Change was major as the impact of the war took hold locally. The aim of the project is to leave a consolidated record of that period. To do that it was first necessary to pull together the knowledge that is available: the prior 2000 year old history of the rural Midhurst District. That foundation is needed to appreciate its place in things. One evacuee’s story is just one face of the story. It is used as the story-line on which the much larger back-story is threaded as the war progressed.
A collection of some 200 printed books and leaflets has been assembled as the project’s hard copy research base. These all have relevance to Midhurst events and objects. Dating back decades, and only being in print, they are unlikely to ever be converted into digital files. The intention, when the project ends, is to gift these to the Midhurst Town as a local reference resource for use by future generations.
Lists of figures and an index, are included for each volume. The Book 4 will contain a full index to all books. The e-book versions can be searched to find topics but they do not copy out.
The No1 Balloon Centre book details are covered in its own page here,
Midhurst WW2 Memoirs: The Evacuee’s Story. Peter H Sydenham. Published 2018.
This is the companion guide to the Midhurst WW2 Memoirs series of 4 books. It gives the main points of the personal story and then describes the follow-on from that event and how the books are being developed. The book publication ideas, p41 on, are now out of date.
46 pp. 21 colour and 9 B&W images. 150 x 234mm x 3mm RRP £2.50.
What Luck - I got Midhurst illustrated presentation
What the Lecture Started
The Book Series (as envisaged in early 2018!)
Book 1. Midhurst WW2 Memoirs: 1. A Place Close to My Heart. Peter H Sydenham. Published 2018
Midhurst, West Sussex is a small English town, much awarded for its natural beauty. During WW2 it was awakened from rural slumber when overrun with troops and evacuees. This series of 4 books, covers its WW2 life and times. It uses the author’s evacuee memories to guide the reader through many, previously untold, back stories of that time. There having been no comprehensive history of the Midhurst district, most of Book 1 presents the pre-war 1000 yr history to give a solid foundation for the project.
374 pp. 50 colour, 140 B&W pictures. 150 x 234mm x 25mm RRP £15.00
Midhurst WW2 Memoirs: Introduction
1 Journeys Begin
2 Shaping Up
3 Good Outcome
4 Religious Influences
5 Catholics Lose Out
6 Under New Management
7 Unlocking Lives
8 Freedom to Move
9 Poverty: A Crime You Did Not commit.
10 Man of 'Golden Deeds'
11 Improving the Quality of life
12 Haphazard Path to Beauty
13 Pre-war Lives
14 All Paths Lead to Midhurst
Book 2. Midhurst WW2 Memoirs: 2. ‘Evil’ Rising: ‘Good’ Awakening Peter H Sydenham. Published August 2020.
This second book deals with formation of WW2. It did not just happen.
It answers many questions; ‘who caused the war?’ Who were the Good and the Evil countries, and what were their long-term aims? Who resisted the Evil elements and what was their build up to the war over the last half of the 1930s? What kind of negative effects took place globally? Where were the Nazis in Britain before war on Germany was declared by Britain?
This book looks at how the people in Midhurst District reacted. Where were the wealthy estates? How did the growing presence of another war effect daily lives. What did families experience?
How did the British Government react being the most World’s most powerful, but declining, nation?
578 pp, 154 colour, 140 B&W pictures. 150 x 234mm x 25mm RRP £20.00
Contents of Book 2
1 Storm Clouds are Forming
2 Nazi Germany; the First Arch enemy of Britain
3 Others of the Evil Camp
4 The Good's Responds
5 The Allies
6 War Approaches
7 Persons without Essentials
8 Money Makes the World go Around
9 Glimpses of a Then Possible Future
10 Midhurst Life with War Imminent
11 Where the 'Other Half' lived in the District
12 Entertainment and Sport
13 Some Local Memories
14 War Begins in Britain
Midhurst WW2 Memoirs: 3. Lowest Times (1940-1943) Peter H Sydenham. Published August 2023.
Hitler was building his Third Reich. Inhumanity and antisemitism became the Nazi norm. Britain hastened onto a war-footing – sent BEF to France, asked Canada for caretaker troops, evacuated children from bombing, set-up personal air raid protection, started rationing, and created the Home Guard.
Occupation would have been unendurable; imaginary life under Nazi rule is explored.
When London was bombed in 1940, Peter was moved to Midhurst.
Being isolated geographically, Midhurst suffered little real hardship until Petworth and Midhurst were bombed.
He then went to live with his mother in rural Easebourne, an exciting adventure playground.
484 pp. 280 colour and B&W pictures. 150x 234mm x 25mm Local price £15. On online with delivery around £23. e-book version available. www.midhurstmemoirs.com for direct ordering from Peter Sydenham.
1 Rapid Preparedness
2 Evacuation of Children
3 Personal Memories of Wartime.
4 Dunkirk and Summer of 1940
5 Battle of Britain Begins
6 London Blitz
7 343 St Ann’s HillBillet
8 Occupation by Nazis
9 Enemy Activity in Sussex
10 Midhurst Town a Target
11 Fund Raising
12 Time in Easebourne
This is in work, with hoped for release in mid 2024.
It covers the second half of wartime Midhurst plus a peek into postwar times.
It should be arund 400 pages long, again with numerous pictures and website links to videos.
Research material is already loaded into the Scrivener building tool.
Finding Hattie. (Brenda Parsons) We need to locate Brenda Parsons. Also known as Hattie. Her maiden name was Happs. She was alive and was active for her Annual 2024 walk. She lives in Cumbria. Her father served with No 1 Balloon Centre, Kidbrooke during WW2. She and Peter Sydenham are the only children of serving persons there who are still alive. We are soon to unveil a Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Heritage award at the Depot pub in Kidbrooke SE London. See www.midhurstmemoirs.com for more detail on that award. She was in communication via firstname.lastname@example.org with myself email@example.com but her email address is no longer being answered. Evidence shows she is still with this world as, just days ago, for she reported her annual Fell Walking walk. https://www.wainwrightwalking.co.uk/angletarn-pikes-and-brock-crags/ Hattie reports her fell walks on https://www.wainwrightwalking.co.uk/ If you can help contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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