Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wartime Wednesday: Give Up Your Home

Wartime Wednesday: Give Up Your Home

Although Americans had to tighten their belts during WWII and learn to feed themselves by growing their own food to supplement rationed items, most citizens in the U.S. did not have to leave their homes. (This does not account for the Japanese-Americans who were forced to move to internment camps). Some people chose to relocate to work in one of the highly paid defense jobs or some other wartime opportunity, but most continued to live in their houses for the duration of the war.

Not so for many of Britain's upper crust.

When the Blitz began, the British government quickly realized they needed to relocate as many of their operations outside of London as possible. The challenge was to find facilities large enough to fit the workers. Most of the towns and villages outside the cities in England were comprised of homes and small public buildings, nothing of any size.

The War Department soon turned their eyes on the rambling estates of the Dukes, Earls, Viscounts and other members of the England's peerage. Located all over the country, these stately manors were massive-often many thousands of square feet in size and set amidst hundreds of acres. Perfect for military installations, hospitals and other organizations requiring that amount of space to spread out.

Owners often received very little notification to vacate their premises and were expected to comply with no questions asked. If the home was not going to be used by the military, the owners were sometimes given permission to remain in one of the "outbuildings" such as servant quarters.Staff were often asked to stay and work for the requisitioning organization.

An interesting piece in The Daily Mail, talks about the toll on some of these beautiful ancestral places. According to the article over 1,000 homes had to be torn down as a result of "wartime mistreatment." Certainly an unfortunate historic loss for the country, but even more tragic as a personal loss for the families who had lived in these homes for generations.

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