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IOM in the Second World War
Culture Vannin in collaboration with the Isle of Man Dept. of Education produced a series of videos specifically designed to be used in Island schools focussing on Manx History and Isle of Man Geology that would fit within the National Curriculum. Produced by Charles Guard, they are now available online and a valuable resource to all parents currently home-schooling.
Here is the social history documentary: The Isle of Man in the Second World War hosted by Alex Brindley & Charles Guard. It was produced as a series of short episodes with further details below:
The Outbreak of War.
This deals with conscription, the requisitioning of the boarding houses, morale and the news of deaths, the Home Guard and internment camps and the local resentment to the internees. We also touch on the problems hoteliers faced when they returned to their premises in 1946 to find them wrecked and the napkins and cutlery stolen:
Defence of the Island.
In this section Charles Guard discusses the enormous number of buildings put up as war approached and visit Jurby and Andreas airfields to see some of the remains and try and identify what they were used for. Charles explains the Chain Home system as well as the bombing ranges, the structures on the airfields, the radar training on Douglas Head and the pill boxes:
Life on the Island.
In these films Alex Brindley looks at aspects of living on the Island during the war and the issues it raised. He starts with conscription, the men leaving the Island and the occasional conscientious objector:
This is followed by a section on gas masks, the Home Guard and air raids. The government came in for considerable criticism for almost everything it did, though one has to admit that advising the elderly to call a taxi to take them into the countryside in the event of an air raid probably earned them that criticism:
The next section deals with rationing, and again, the government didn’t shine in its decision-making. Although the rest of Britain was introducing rationing, MHKs thought we could manage without it because ‘every Manx housewife knew how to make bacon’, and there were plenty of rabbits; and Constable Cowin made a name for himself by confiscating cakes which had chocolate and cream on them – a prosecutable offence:
Then there were the air crashes, some 260 of them on and around the Island. We look at some of the hazards and visit the site of the worst disaster in Manx aviation history:
Surprisingly, the Island didn't escape the occasional bomb, but one eccentric millionaire who tried to avoid them actually ended up having them dropped behind his house:
Whilst hoteliers were having their boarding houses requisitioned, the Steam Packet was having its boats taken into military service and their captains and crews performed heroically at Dunkirk:
Finally, peace arrived, but not everyone coming back to the Island found that returning to civilian life was easy or that their experiences were of interest to those who had stayed behind: