Merseyside played a unique role during the Second World War, which directly led to the area being a major enemy target in an attempt to put the port completely out of action. Consequently, Merseyside became the most heavily bombed area outside of the capital. Despite the considerable damage, the campaign failed, and the port continued as a centre of operations for Western Approaches Command, controlling the safe passage of supply convoys into the Mersey, providing an essential lifeline to the success of the war effort.
Rare insights into the life of war-torn Merseyside are included, along with untold stories from those who witnessed the events first hand, including the Blitz, the defense of the port, and the grim conditions in one of the largest prisoner of war and internment camps in the country in Huyton.
A broad spectrum of life on the Home Front is recounted through memories, newspaper stories and personal memoirs to bear witness to the profound trials of courage and fortitude of ordinary people enduring this desperate struggle to survive the war years. This fraught resilience was not always a united front, and controversial topics are also studied, such as conscientious objectors, racism, strike action, and crime, plus the issue of the Spirit of the Blitz – was it a myth or reality?
This book therefore is an attempt to cover the full period of the war on the Home Front, in all its aspects, from the day war was declared, to the wild celebrations on the streets at the cessation of hostilities, plus the immediate post war problems.
About the Author
Mike Royden has taught history for over 30 years and has made regular appearances on radio and television, including Radio 4’s Making History, BBC’s Heirhunters and Who Do You Think You Are? most recently appearing in the programme featuring Gareth Malone, and with Ricky Tomlinson in Blitz Cities. His books include Tales from the ‘Pool: A Collection of Liverpool Stories, Village at War: A Cheshire Village During the First World War, Liverpool Then and Now, and Tracing Your Liverpool Ancestors. Mike Royden also runs several history websites at www.roydenhistory.co.uk.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Phoney War 1
Chapter 2 City Exodus 21
Chapter 3 Defence of the Port 42
Chapter 4 Bombers over Merseyside: The Autumn/Winter Raids of 1940/41 74
Chapter 5 The Week That Rocked Merseyside 96
Chapter 6 The Spirit of the Blitz - Myth or Reality? 124
Chapter 7 We Will Not Fight 146
Chapter 8 Life on the Home Front 166
Chapter 9 Factory Life 197
Chapter 10 Western Approaches Command and the Battle of the Atlantic 214
Chapter 11 Victory and Aftermath 234
Appendix I Merseyside Medals and Awards on the Home Front 255
Appendix II Museums and Historic Sites 273
Appendix III Bibliography 281