Savernake At War - A Wartime History of Savernake Forest 1940-1949, by Roger Day
Published privately by the author in 2007, 64 pages. Large A4 size paperback (N5318). Book signed by the author on the title page
From the rear side cover: Savernake Forest is located just to the southeast of the Wiltshire market town of Marlborough. It covers an area of about 4,500 acres, is the largest privately owned forest in Britain and during the Second World war became one of the country's biggest ammunition dumps.
This book contains many personal memories of people who lived or worked in the area and together with maps and contemporary photographs provides an absorbing insight into the storage and supply of ammunition - an important but often overlooked aspect of World War Two history.
The introduction to the book begins: Situated in the north-east of Wiltshire, about 73 miles west of London and 12 miles south of Swindon, is the ancient market town of Marlborough. Its famous wide High Street forms part of the old London to Bath coach Road (A4), which for centuries has brought trade and prosperity to the town.
Bordering Marlborough on its southeastern fringe is Savernake Forest, a remnant of the ancient woodland That once cloaked much of Britain. It covers an area of Over 4,500 acres and is owned by the Ailesbury family Who leases it to the Forestry Commission. Running southeastwards for five miles, from Iron Gates to the Marquess of Ailesbury's ancestral home at Tottenham House is a road known as the 'Grand Avenue'. The road is perfectly straight and until fairly recently was Lined on either side by magnificent beech trees that Towered above it, and whose trunks were likened by many to the columns of a medieval cathedral. About mid-way along its length six other roads meet, in Perfect symmetry, at a point called Eight Rides. It was In 1723 that the third Earl of Ailesbury originally planned and laid out the forest in this formal manner.
Since the beginning of the last century the public has been allowed access to most parts of the forest. I grew up in the nearby village of Ramsbury and together with my parents and brother often went walking through Savernake's beautiful woodland. One childhood legacy of those visits is a lingering memory of strange looking bunkers spaced fairly evenly along almost the entire length of the Grand Avenue. I was told they were built during the Second World War for the storage of ammunition - ever since that time I have been fascinated by the forest's wartime past.
On the pages that follow I have tried to record some of the events that took place there between 1940 and 1950. It has not been an easy journey as much of what happened during that period was shrouded in secrecy, and sadly many stories will remain untold. However, the storage and supply of ammunition was vital in securing a successful outcome to World War Two, and I hope this book highlights Savernake's important part in that accomplishment.
The condition of the book is generally very good. The covers are clean and bright, the spine is tight and intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is a small price sticker on the rear side cover, and the book does curve gently upwards along the left and right hand edges from where it has been stored flat on the shelves