Monday, 17 August 2009

Dangerous Coastline – 1939-1945 a wartime childhood in Birchington, Kent

This book by Derek Hart was first published in 2003as the original printing has run out and I have done a reprint. The following is from the introduction.

Derek Hart wrote this book after he retired from the Post Office in 1992. Having attended a seminar for newly retired staff, he was attracted to the idea of writing the story of his wartime childhood. He realised that his experiences were unusual because so few of Birchington’s children remained in the village during the war. When the schools closed in 1940, the majority of local children were evacuated to Staffordshire, with most of the five to eleven year-olds being billeted in the Tamworth area.

Derek went to great lengths to check the accuracy of his memories and spent many hours at local libraries and checking other sources of reference. He tried to find a publisher for his work, but none was interested at that time. Sadly, he died very suddenly on the 28th May 2003, without seeing his dream realised. His widow, Maureen, and his two sons, Jason and Justin, felt that the work was of real significance and ought, somehow, to reach a local audience, so they approached the Birchington Heritage Trust.

As soon as I began to read it, I felt sure that it was of immense value to local readers, because so little information has survived from this period. Between 1940 and 1945 we only have a handful of Parish magazines, usually one of the most fruitful sources of information. The local press holds some information, but it seldom covered the ordinary day-to-day events in Birchington that Derek has so expertly captured. The manuscript has been slightly edited, but only so that it will read more easily for young and old alike. The older generation will know what all the wartime ‘jargon’ means, so we hope they will forgive some of what, to them, may seem like obvious explanations.

Derek’s family are so pleased to see this work in print and feel it is a fitting memorial to a loving husband, father and grandfather, as well as a worthy contribution to our local knowledge of a most amazing period in our island’s history, or as Churchill so aptly called it, “our finest hour”.


Jennie Burgess
Parish Archivist
Birchington: November 2003
Reprinted 2009

Click here to buy the book

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