The strange and melancholy tale of Tyneham highlights one of the lesser-known sacrifices of the Second World War.
The villagers of Tyneham on the Isle of Purbeck must have been devastated when, in November 1943, they were informed they had 28 days to leave because the area was needed for military training.
All 102 houses and cottages were evacuated and a note was pinned to the church door: ‘We have given up our homes where many of us have lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We will return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.’
Heartbreakingly, they never did return. Preparation for the D-Day landings left Tyneham in ruins from shelling and, after the war, the valley was compulsorily purchased by the MoD.
A campaign to reclaim the land went on for decades, but the Government never gave in. Volunteers have restored what they can and Tyneham is now a fascinating snapshot of 1940s life.
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