Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Stories that shouldn't be forgotten


In 1941 following some successful commando raids on Bruneval and St Nazaire it was decided to mount a significant amphibious raid on the coast of France. The destination of Dieppe was chosen.

The assault troops for the raid were to come from 2nd Calgary Tank Regiment under the command of Major General Roberts. The Royal Navy and Royal Air force would supply fire power and personnel to cover the infantry landings.

The layout of Dieppe with beaches and cliffs flanking each side of the harbour was very similar to West Bay and so it was chosen as the location to carry out a rehearsal.

As dawn was breaking on June 12th 1942 Lyme Bay was filled with over 80  Royal Navy vessels carrying the 2nd Canadian Division to the landing beaches at West Bay. Looking at the same landscape 75 years on it is hard to imagine the scale of the operation.

From top- Eype beach, Harbour & beach at West Bay and Burton Freshwater in the distance.

4,000 troops were landed on 3 beaches (Eype, West Bay and Burton Freshwater) These beaches represented the beaches of Puy, Dieppe and Portville.

West Bay was a secure area during WW2 and passes were required to access the area. Those living in West Bay had to have a suitcase ready, as they could be moved out at any moment, one of these occasions was for Exercise Yukon. Not everyone was notified and the family living in the railway station were frightened when they looked out of their window and saw Canadian French speaking soldiers outside on the platform! Harmony was restored when the soldiers were invited in dry their socks beside the fire and have a cup of tea!


Poor intelligence and communications between naval vessels meant that troops were landed late and on the wrong beaches and Exercise Yukon 1 was summed up as being 'Not altogether successful. This put the Raid on Dieppe in jeopardy and it was therefore decided to repeat the Exercise ten days later. This time the rehearsal was overseen by Mountbatten, Montgomery and other Chiefs of staff and the operation was more successful. This was despite two buildings in West Bay being set on fire by smoke flares (Methodist Chapel and Bridport Arms Hotel) and a Canadian soldier firing a smoke rocket that narrowly missed Montgomery!



Following Exercise Yukon the raid on Dieppe was approved and it took place on 19th August 1942. Of the 6,000 who took part in the landing 4,384 were killed wounded or missing - a loss of 73%. It was the worse single day for the Canadian Army in WW2. All the equipment landed on shore was lost, including all the Churchill tanks.
The Royal Navy lost 550 men and 34 ships.
The Royal Air Force in the largest single day battle of the war, flew 2,617 sorties and loss 106 planes.
48 civilians were killed and 102 injured.

The Dieppe raid was a disaster but valuable lessons were learnt and Lord Mountbatten later declared
 'For every solider that died at Dieppe, 10 were saved on D-Day.'

These days news of this scale would make headline news. It has been a surprise to discover that this story is not well known and locals here were unaware of the role West Bay played in the Dieppe Raid. On the 75th Anniversary, a group of individuals got together to raise the profile of this story and get a permanent memorial placed in West Bay so the story of these young men who never returned home would not be forgotten. To raise money for this, a talk and exhibition have been held in the West Bay Discovery Centre, which was very well attended.
 

The Methodist church known as "the Chapel on the beach", was built by a local ship builder in 1849. The Chapel ceased to be a place of worship in 2007 and now belongs to Bridport Area Development Trust, which restores and re-uses historic buildings. They have recently been awarded Coastal Community Funding to restore the building and adapt it as an innovative Discovery Centre. The Centre will tell the story of West Bay and will include other stories from the past, hopefully including more with happier endings!



Methoodist Chapel - West Bay

Sarah x

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

By the sea


The weather has been glorious the last week and it has made us abandon projects that we are working on and have some long-needed half-days out. It has really felt as if we have been on holiday!


The tide was out when we visited Charmouth beach, allowing us to take a long walk along the sands.


It was just as well Tavi had a hair cut at the beginning of the week. He loves being in the sea or running on the beach, no matter what time of year it is. Our daughter sometimes complains that when he returns from a walk that he smells very fishy!




Another day we visited Portland.  We went to the newly opened D Day Centre, which we were very impressed with. The slipway and harbour above would have been packed with American GI's before they left these shores to invade France in 1944, such a contrast to the tranquil scene now. The D Day Centre, although small, was packed with exhibits, most of which you could handle. All the American Army vehicles you could climb in and explore, including this tank. (We had Tavi with us so we didn't go in the tank, but did sit in some of the vehicles inside.)



It is always good to learn new facts. Outside the Centre is one of the Mulberry Harbours.  These two concrete blocks were part of a portable harbour that was used in World War II to facilitate the rapid offloading of cargo in 1944.  It is a fascinating story which can be read here.

Since the Mulberry Harbours returned from France they have been a local landmark in Portland Harbour. What I didn't realise however, was that six other  Phoenix Caissons returned to Portland after the War were moved to Holland, following terrible flooding in the North Sea in 1953. I was aware of the dreadful flooding in Canvey Island but wasn't aware of the loss of life at the same time in Holland. The caissons were towed over to Holland  (only 4 made it) and were used to form  a defence against further flooding. They are now part of the Watersnood Museum- the video (although in Dutch) is worth looking at if you are interested.


We decided to take Tavi on a old favourite walk on Portland and although the climb up the hill is steep the views are amazing especially when the sun is shining!


    I always wanted one of the beach huts overlooking the sea!


On other days it has been better to take longer walks in the evening. We sat admiring this view of the River Bride, as it heads out to sea, and were delighted to see a kingfisher fly across the river and head inland. It  appeared out of nowhere and flew so fast, it's plumage matching the amazing colour of the water. This is only the second time we have ever seen one, the last time was in Derbyshire about 15 years ago! I hope I don't have to wait that long to see another one.


 After a hot day at the Bridport Food Festival, an evening walk along the cliffs at West Bay was a great way to cool down. Maybe these images will make you feel refreshed too!




Did anyone attend any of the 120,000 street parties that took place in the UK last weekend?  They were inspired in memory of Jo Cox and were based on the Eden Project Communities Big Lunch project that has been running for about eight years.

Regular readers may remember following my suggestion and with lots of support and enthusiasm our road had a street party.  We had planned for rain or some sunshine but hadn't imagined it would be one of the hottest days of the year! Despite the heat, we managed between us to find enough garden umbrellas to give some shade, and it was lovely for all of us to come together and get to know each other better. Everyone thought it was so worthwhile and our plans are to repeat it again next year, I do recommend doing it too.

A street party wouldn't be complete without a cake this one was produced by our daughter as her contribution!
Hoping you are having a good week and I get around to visiting some blogs this week!

Sarah x

Monday, 12 June 2017

A sense of achievement


It is always good to celebrate an achievement.This year we were able to see first hand the amazing wooden boats that have recently been completed by the Boat Building Academy at Lyme Regis.



It was quite difficult taking pictures as it was very crowded. Many people wanted to come and admire and photograph these wonderful handmade wooden boats. In the crowds was quite an unusual press photographer!



My father in law was a carpenter, so we can really appreciate the work that has gone into these boats. There were 16  people on the August 2016 course and they managed between them to build 6 wooden boats, restore one and also make a paddle board. The launch was successful, but unfortunately we ran out of time and didn't watch it as we had to rush back to Bridport. It was a beautiful day and so it was just as well there was time at the start of our visit to admire the views. The weather has turned back to winter since then!





The huge echiums were almost as high as the famous Lyme Regis ammonite lamps

Another great achievement recently has been the re-opening of Bridport Museum after a Lottery grant of  £1.3 million. It looks similar on the outside apart from the new branding and brightly coloured benches



In the inside however it has changed from this ........


and this ....


to something that looks so much larger and brighter.




Having been involved in a very small way behind the scenes over the past few months I really do appreciate how much hard work goes into every tiny part of the displays.



Although I am biased if you are ever in this area a visit to the Museum is well worth while. We have been receiving so many positive comments it makes all the hard work so worth while. Have you achieved something recently, I would love to know.

Sorry for the lack of posts and commenting I keep thinking life will become quieter but that just isn't happening at the moment!
Sarah x

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Through the Garden Gate May 2017


 The changes in the garden are so rapid at this time of year that you almost need a weekly rather than a monthly visit through the garden gate. Take this view for instance it has changed from this at the beginning of the month......


to this......


So many plants have had their 5 minutes of fame and faded away for another year such as these alliums.



Regular readers may remember that I am trying to capture the garden from a similar location each month, so these are the typical views I have captured.





Things aren't always perfect in the garden  - our poor lupins have been decimated by green fly, we don't like spraying with chemicals, trying to wash it off with a fine spray just didn't work. We have had to resort to cutting the lupins all down in the hope it won't spread to other plants. Does anyone have any tips? We noticed blue tits feeding off some white fly on the parsley but they weren't so interested in the green fly on the lupins!



The vegetable garden is full of salad crops and the broad beans are looking good at the moment.
Favourite plants of the month include the contrasting orange marigolds and purple chive flowers, the blue geranium Brookside and the yellow geum.

Despite a busy month ahead I have signed up for going 30 days wild challenge in June, if you want to join in  see this link to the Wildlife Trusts challenge.



What is your favourite plant or disaster this month in the garden?

If you would like to join in with Through the garden gate each month please let me know in the comments below and I will add your site. Those participating this month so far are :-


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