The Battle of the Fields

The Battle of the Fields

Rural Community and Authority in Britain during the Second World War

Brian Short

Hardback
$120.00

Boydell Press

Overview

Overview

This book will appeal not only to historians and geographers, but to many who maintain a deep interest in the British countryside and its past, and to those who continue to share a fascination for the Second World War, in particular the 'home front'.
The Battle of the Fields tells the story of rural community and authority in Britain during the Second World War by looking at the County War Agricultural Executive Committees. From 1939 they were imbued with powers to transform British farming to combat the loss of food imports caused by German naval activity and initial European mainland successes. Their powers were sweeping and draconian. When fully exercised against recalcitrant farmers, dispossession in part or whole could and did result. This book includes the most detailed analysis of these dispossessions including the tragic case of Ray Walden, the Hampshire farmer who was killed by police after refusing to leave his farmhouse in 1940.
The committees were deemed successful by Whitehall as harbingers of modernity: mechanization, draining, artificial fertilizers, reclamation of heaths, marshes and woodlands. We now deplore some of these changes but Britain did not starve, in large part thanks to their efforts.
This book will appeal not only to historians and geographers, but to many who maintain a deep interest in the British countryside and its past, and to those who continue to share a fascination for the Second World War, in particular the "home front". It will also demonstrate to all who are anxious about food security in the modern age how this question was dealt with 70 years ago.

BRIAN SHORT is Emeritus Professor of Historical Geography at the University of Sussex, and formerly Dean of School and Head of the Department of Geography.

Details

November 2014
45 black and white illustrations
480 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843839378
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BIC HBLW, 1DBK, 2AB, 3JJ
BISAC HIS037070, HIS015000, HIS027100
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Table of Contents

Introduction: writing food security in the mid-twentieth century
Prelude: the 1930s and the origins and purpose of state intervention in farming
Rural society on the eve of war
The arrival of the county committees and their structures
The membership of the county committees and their role in farm surveillance
Networking the rural community
Dispossessing farmers in England and Wales during and after the war
Power and tragedy: the sad case of Ray Walden
Reclamation: environmental and landscape transformation 1939 - 1945
Reclamation: the Fenland and coastal marshes
Wartime farming and state control in Scotland and Northern Ireland
Representation, memory and fiction
1945 and Postwar continuities
Contradictions in a countryside at war

Reviews

A model for further research..This volume should therefore serve as encouragement for all local, community, social and economic historians interested in rural society and the British home front. FAMILY & COMMUNITY HISTORY

(An) admirable book.. Professor Short's highly detailed, elegant and well-crafted account draws upon a massive array of sources and is likely for the foreseeable future to remain the primary work in the field. TWENTIETH CENTURY BRITISH HISTORY

A detailed and comprehensive account.. Short's book is both thought provoking and captivating, providing an intricate and ultimately unrivalled account of issues of authority and food security during the Second World War that comes highly recommended to both the academic and the more generalist reader with a particular interest in the period. JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY

Winston Churchill wrote that the only threat that really worried him during WW II was that German U-boats could disrupt the flow of food, troops, and military supplies. British farmers rose to the challenge by dramatically increasing food production, and geographer Short provides a deeply researched study of County War Agricultural Executive Committees, which significantly contributed to that achievement. Recommended. CHOICE