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Alan Gillon " Keep the Home Fires Burning" 30th Mar 22

Alan returned to give another of his entertaining talks about life in Whitehaven during the Second World War. From Mickey Mouse gas masks and the amazing ‘Gas Pram’, to the £7 Anderson Shelter, and cows painted to help drivers avoid them in the blackout, his anecdotes and illustrations brought back many memories for some of the audience and amazed the others.

We learned that the Whitehaven area avoided the worst effects of the war but made a huge contribution, with local industries producing munitions, parachute silk, uniform items and aluminium for aircraft. As a coastal town it was able to defend the Solway as far south as RAF Millom, and even sheltered the Danish fishing fleet which had been unable to return home after the invasion of Norway! Further south an important training facility at HMS Volcano in Holmrook Hall played a crucial part in the D Day landings, and Muncaster Castle was used to protect the nation’s art treasures.