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Stromness Museum

Orkney in Wartime: 'The People's Story' Vol. 1

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Orkney in Wartime’ is a two-volume work outlining the impact of war on everyday life in Orkney by Historian Emile Flett. Between 1939 and 1945 Orcadians experienced changes to their lives that even the renowned Orcadian ‘hids hid’ attitude found challenging at times. Who would have thought a German plane would land in a field in Sandwick or army vehicles would be on manoeuvres amongst the stones of the Ring o’ Brodgar?

Volume 1 describes the military preparations for war as army camps and airfields sprung up around the islands and young men were ‘called up’ to serve in the Forces. The sinking of the Royal Oak and bombing raids brought home the grim reality of war whilst the possibility of invasion led to the creation of the Home Guard in preparation for the onslaught that many felt was sure to come.

The tsunami of people that came to Orkney sparked an economic boom and the ‘friendly invasion’ led to friendships that were to last a lifetime. Many local activities were stopped but in their place Orcadians had access to entertainment way beyond any pre-war expectations. However, a negative side of the population boom was the explosion in crime which Orkney’s police force struggled to deal with throughout the war years.

Extracts from diaries, documents, newspapers and photographs all add to the ‘story’ of those living and working in Orkney during the Second World War.

Orcadians adjusted to the wartime regulations and carried on with their lives in the changed circumstances. Orcadians were not just onlookers to all that was going on around them -- they were heavily involved in the war effort, from working for the Red Cross to involvement in the large ‘War Week’ fund-raising campaigns.

Hardback, 208 pages. 

ISBN: 9781912889280

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