Keep Smiling Through! The Brixham Home Front 1939-1945, by Samantha Little

Keep Smiling Through! The Brixham Home Front 1939-1945, by Samantha Little

Published by the Brixham Museum in 2011, 82 pages. Paperback - c.18.5cm by 23cm (N8149)

From the foreword: Samantha Little has triumphed again! This time portraying Brixham life during the town's World War Two ordeal. Samantha successfully weaves worldwide events of 1939-1945 with day-to-day Brixham life. The impact of the war pulled the small community together. As we read through this tale, it is quite clear that Brixham was no bystander during World War II and older Brixhamites rightly hold their heads high, after a sterling war effort.

Samantha's narrative adeptly transports the reader on to the old 1940's streets of Brixham. She reminds us of those dark days when British liberty was severely threatened... Familiar local names constantly jump off the page: Smardon, Ashford, Putt, Kennar, Mudge, Drew, Bubeer and many, many more. The effect is something very real and close to home even for those of us too young to have been part of such extraordinary times.

There are haunting scenes such as the 'grim flotilla' that sailed into the Harbour with hundreds of Belgian refugees, who fled their homeland. They had been at sea for days without food and water, dodging sea mines. There are emotional scenes oflocal people embracing evacuees and sad farewells when both refugees and evacuees nervously left Brixham to return home to the unknown... As darkness fell even earlier due to the blackout regulations, there were fishermen's wives making camouflage nets by candlelight, dog fights overhead by day and whispers of the latest Brixham casualties. This is a must read book for all those who hold Brixham close to their hearts. A tingle will run up your spine as you hear about the 1940 Autumn live broadcast for the BBC Forces Programme from the Bolton Hotel, listened to by thousands of servicemen and women all over the world, who were comforted by the strains of Abide With Me sung tenderly by Brixhamites.

Through all these events we also learn about the ordeals of the fishing fleet. It is interesting that many of their problems are similar to those of today. There are stories of individual dedication and bravery from many townsfolk.

The condition of the book is generally very good. The covers are clean and bright, the spine is intact, and all pages are clean, tidy, unblemished and tightly bound.