Reading At War 1939-45 is a non-fiction account of the Berkshire town of Reading and how the people of the town and the surrounding areas coped during World War Two.
David Bilton has collated much of the information from local history books and copies of The Standard, the town’s newspaper. My grandparents and parents all lived in Reading, so this book had particular interest to me. As I read the book I was eager to find details about familiar place names and establishments. Street names from my past constantly popped off the pages as I placed them against my childhood memories.
I was fascinated by the quantity of money-raising campaigns and collections of goods which continued throughout the war years. Of particular note was raising money for Spitfire aircraft, boats and tanks as well as funds for prisoners of war, hospitals and many more.
This is definitely worth reading if you have an interest in the town and it will give me much to talk about with my parents, who I am sure will also be interested in this book.
Reading at War 1939–45 on Goodreads
As in the Great War, Reading in the Second World War was a town permanently in a state of flux. So close to London, so easily pinpointed by its proximity to the Thames, with railway lines converging near the town center and with much of the town’s industry geared up to essential war work, it was an obvious target for the German Luftwaffe when the war broke out. Knowing this, the council had set up an efficient civil defense system aided by government finance. Fortunately for the citizens, although they were bombed on many occasions, only one raid had any significant impact.
The book covers the daily life of a town ready for the worst, but one that continued with its daily life and just got on with its efforts to aid the war effort. The book is profusely illustrated with photographs, illustrations and human interest stories. Much of the material used has not been seen since the war so it provides a valuable and unique insight into daily life of the town.