Back to the 40s
Brixham and World War 2 (1939-1945)
The Second World War has been the most destructive conflict in human history. It resulted in the deaths of a known 63 Million people worldwide. Countless millions more also suffered bereavement, injury, dislocation, loss of homes and property. It changed our world socially, politically and economically. Much of what we know today can be traced back to that era. So also can many of the challenges we still face today.
In 1939 Brixham was a small coastal fishing port with a population of around 8,000. It was radically changed by the War. Over 125 local inhabitants are recorded as killed and many more were injured, disabled or suffered loss and bereavement.
Brixham men and women played a vital role in the war effort, in the Land Army, Auxiliary Services, Home Guard, at sea in minesweepers, merchant vessels or arctic convoys, or in the air in fighter or bomber planes.
Brixham hosted a large refugee population during the war, mainly refugees from occupied Belgium. The Americans also arrived in numbers from 1943 onwards as the South West had been chosen as the practice ground for the US Forces to prepare for the invasion of France.
Today we can still recall this period of our history. It is there in our buildings and our streets. So please walk around and visit the exhibitions and displays and enjoy the activities. Take a moment to remember our forebears who served and sacrificed during the 40s. And never forget, we owe them so much for the peace and freedom we now enjoy.
So come and enjoy our heritage together. We have arranged a number of exhibitions, displays and activities for all generations to enjoy under our ‘Back to the 1940s’ celebrations of Brixham between 1st and 9th June 2019.
FREE ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
At the beginning of June, Brixham will be going back to the 40s. To help create the ‘war-time’ feel in the town alongside the music, sounds, street entertainers and re-enactors from the period, many shops. bars and cafes will be creating their own displays.
Sit down in a cafe and hear the great speeches of Sir Winston Churchill; the sound of the air-raid siren followed by the all clear; stop and admire the historic 1940’s vehicles in the streets; the dance displays or music in our Old Fish Market or at Shoalstone Pool; or simply chat to the re-enactors around you.
Brixham’s eminent military historian Robbie Robinson will be in circulation most days. As well as being a great character, he is a fantastic source of local knowledge. He is always happy to stop and talk and when he does he frequently attracts a crowd!
Brixham on D-Day, a new film by the South Devon Players which records many of the memories of Brixham people who lived through these amazing times will be premiered on Sunday 2nd June.
Please note: Programme is subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control
We cannot therefore guarantee every event, activity or act will appear as published.
Free Guided Tours
We will be conducting a series of FREE guided walking tours each day except Thurs 6th June – D-Day. Tours run from 11am -12 noon and begin at The Old Coaching Inn on Fore Street. The tours will highlight aspects of everday life in the 1940s. You can download copy of the tour notes here.
Free Public Talks
We will be conducting a series of FREE public talks in the Old Coaching from 12 -1pm every day except Thurs 6th June –D-Day.
Topics to follow shortly……
With the 75th Anniversary of D-Day approaching, over 60 free 1940s activities, will be hitting the streets of Brixham from 1st-9th June. Organised by Brixham Future, the events are expected to attract a wide audience of visitors and residents of all generations, as...
To celebrate the legacy of freedoms passed to us by our forbears, join us for a fun evening of live 40s music and dance at the Scala Hall on 8th June. Music is by High Society, a local band of accomplished vintage(!) musicians. There will be a bar on site where you...
A major FREE attraction . This is a must-see on your visit to Brixham. Tucked away amid a street layout that reflects the middle ages this church is a hidden gem. It reflects not only so much of Brixham's history but also contains a large graveyard with many WW2...
One of the delightful FREE attractions in Brixham Town Centre at 61 Fore Street. `The Old Coaching Inn ` is a `must see` for all visitors to Brixham as one of our most historic sites. Step back in time to 1939 and the beginning of World War 2. By 1943 thousands of...
This FREE public inter-denominational service will be held on the evening before the 75th anniversary D-Day to give thanks for the safe embarcation of over 120,000 invasion troops mainly British and Americans. The service will be an opportunity for the whole community...
One of the major FREE public attractions will be the 6th June 2019 Parade to mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. The Parade will be led by Scottish Pipers and drummers alongside the Royal British Legion (Brixham Branch) with representative groups from military and...
A FREE competition open to both the parents and children is the 1940`s treasure hunt. This will be run by the Middle Street Traders from whom forms can be obtained at either shops or the Craft Market underneath the old fishing market on Saturday the 2nd or 8th June or...
An inspiring FREE fashion show set in the iconic Shoalstone sea water pool on Monday 3rd June between 11am -1pm. Brixham people had to `mend and make do` in the `war years` and this show pays tribute to the skills of the housewife and local seamstresses who made...
A wonderful Free Exhibition awaits those who have an interest in the artistic heritage of this small port. Brixham has been the home port of many artists who grew upin the war years and have left us with their recollections of what the conflict was like in vivid...
A wonderful FREE performance awaits you from one of the most famous Choirs in the country. To mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day the Lympstone Military Wives Choir will perform a range of music from the 1940`s sung by women whose husbands are currently serving in our...
One of the major FREE attractions in town is our historic theatre which will be holding a number of evening performances to mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. It will also be open to the public during the day for people to simply view the spectacular Victoria...
Coastal Defences Another major FREE attraction and a hidden jewel of Brixham is the unique set of remaining coastal defences built to protect the harbour from air and seaborne attack.From 1939 along Britain`s coastline defences were being built. These included large...
The sixth of June 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the launching of Operation Overlord with the D-Day Landings in Normandy. In order to commemorate all those who took part in this momentous historical event, a small team from the Torbay Amateur Radio Society (TARS) ...
Brixham's Heritage Museum is situated in the town's old police station next to the main town hall. It has a number of galleries that contain displays about Brixham in the wartime period. There are many interesting and rare local family WW2 heirlooms. There is a short...
The Friends of Brixham Library will be hosting a small D-Day Exhibition centred around four mannequins displaying uniforms that would have been seen in Brixham and the surrounding area in the run-up to D-Day. US 4th Infantry Division Infantryman US Engineer/Driver...
30 May 2019Sadly, due to adverse weather conditions in the North Sea, the visit of MTB102 has been cancelled. Brixham harbour hosted both Royal Navy and Canadian flotilla's of these small craft during WW2. Our local St. Mary`s Churchyard contains the graves of...
75th Anniversary of D-Day
6th June 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy .
D-Day was one of the most ambitious military campaigns in human history. In its strategy and scope – and its enormous stakes for the future of the free world – historians regard it among the greatest military achievements ever.
The American 4th Infantry Division departed from Brixham’s Breakwater Beach on 4th June 1944 bound for ‘Utah’ Beach on the Normandy Coast. Their Landing at 06.30 on 6th June heralded the first step in the liberation of Nazi-occupied France.
Royal British Legion
The Royal British Legion is a UK charity providing lifelong support for members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, Reservists, veterans and their families and dependants. It is best known for its national and local Festivals of Remembrance on the 11th November each year and for the annual poppy appeal.
The Brixham Branch of the Royal british Legion has played a major role in the planning and delivery of our commemoration, exhibitions and activities to mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. They will lead both The Festival of Remembrance on 5th June at St Mary’s church and the D-Day Parade on the 6th June.
The Royal Naval Association
With over 20,000 members across 300+ branches in the UK and overseas, the Royal Naval Association is a family of current and former Naval Service personnel, relatives and supporters of our country’s Royal Navy.
Whether we are catching up with friends at our regular social events, fundraising, advising on welfare and employment matters, or just providing an arm around the shoulder, our natural willingness to help others stems from the tradition and camaraderie that Naval Service instils.
The Brixham Branch meet at the Rugby Club at 7.30pm on the first Tuesday of each month.
In 2004, a bronze plaque was placed at the Old Fish Market as a lasting memorial to those lost, organised by Gordon Thomas and Sam Tribble.
Harold Wood celebrated his 100th birthday on the 16th of February 2019. Here he recalls his wartime service in the Royal Canadian Airforce specialising in radar defences around the coast of the UK, arriving in Brixham to help with the D-Day preparations.
I was a Belgian refugee during the war, in Brixham. I was 11 years old when the war broke out. One bomb fell near the gas tank which began to leak; another fell on the off-licence in Fore Street, killing the parents of a National School friend of mine. Three times, German planes gunned my father while he was fishing, but the last time was the worst…
My mother and I walked down to Bolton Cross to see what was going on and saw all the GIs in jeeps, tanks, bulldozers and ducks making their way down Fore Street to the harbour. I can remember their faces and their looks, not laughing, cheering faces we had seen before as they passed; their faces were sad and grim. Some did wave, knowing maybe they were going to their deaths.
Below are listed the organisations that provided input into the delivery of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. We are grateful to them all for the major community effort. We have not named individuals to avoid any embarrassment. Many people went beyond normal endeavours to ensure success and for that we are extremely grateful.
All Saints Church
Austen Knapman Limited
Berry Head Hotel
Blue Anchor Public House
Boyce and Company Estate Agents
Brixham Army Cadet Force
Brixham Arts & Theatre Society (BATS)
Brixham Baptist Church
Brixham Blind & Visually Impaired club
Brixham Bowling Club
Brixham Chamber of Commerce
Brixham Community Church
Brixham Cricket Club
Brixham Does Care
Brixham Gig Club
Brixham Harmony Community Singers
Brixham Heritage Museum
Brixham Holiday Park
Brixham Hospital League of Friends
Brixham Ladies Forum
Brixham MDL Marina
Brixham Orpheus Male Voice Choir
Brixham Pirate Festival Committee
Brixham Rugby Club
Brixham Salvation Army
Brixham Sea Angling Club
Brixham Society of Art
Brixham Town Band
Brixham Town Council
Brixham United Reformed Church
Brixham Women’s Institute
Brixham Yacht Club
Chestnut Community Centre
Chris Slack Photography
Christians Together in Brixham
Churston Court Hotel
Churston Ferrers Grammar School
Churston Golf Club
Devon and Cornwall Police
Devon Fire & Rescue Service, Brixham
Doble’s Jewellers-Fore Street
Friends of Brixham Library
Torbay Mayors Fund
Landscove Holiday Park
Lord Lieutenants office -Devon
Manor Public House, Brixham
Manor Public House, Galmpton
Member of British Parliament
Member of European Parliament
Middle Street Traders
Military Vehicle Trust and K-Blasting Limited
Pilgrim of Brixham
Pride in Brixham
Prince William Public House
Riviera Bay Owners
Roger Richards Solicitors
Ron Campion Furnishings
Royal Air Force Association Club
Royal British Legion, Brixham
Royal Naval Association, Brixham
Salty Sparrow Cafe
Shells Hair & Beauty
South Bay Holiday Park
South Devon Green Party
South Devon Players Theatre Company
Sprat & Mackerel Public House
SRS/CSRS Churchill, Brixham Sea Rangers
St Mary`s Badminton Club
St. Mary’s Bowls Club
St. Mary’s Church
Strand Art gallery
The Brixham Steam Packet Company and Chart Room First Class Coffee Lounge
The Crown & Anchor Public House
The Edge Acoustic Band
The Labour Party
The Old Coaching Inn- Fore Street, Brixham
The Rotary Club of Brixham
The Trawler Race Committee
Torbay Harbour Authority
Torbay Harbour Office
Trinity Cake Shop-Fore Street Torbay Ukelele Band
Vigilance Preservation Trust Ltd
ARMED FORCES COVENANT
Brixham Future CIC supports the Armed Forces Covenant which is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the armed forces are treated fairly.
For communities the armed forces covenant is a promise of mutual support between a civilian community and its local armed forces community.
We thank all the military family of organizations who are contributing to the success of this event.