Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Help wanted to plan New Forest WWII history project bid

Mulberry Harbours remains at Lepe beach
Signs are still visible of the building of the Mulberry Harbours at Lepe beach for D-Day

The New Forest park authority has asked heritage groups to help them with a new archaeological project to record life in the New Forest during World War II.

The project will involve collating information, memories, photographs and artefacts and surveying the area.

The New Forest had 12 airfields and the remains of the building of the Mulberry Harbours in preparation for D-Day can still be seen at Lepe beach.

The authority is in the process of applying for a £473,000 lottery grant.

The initial bid has been approved by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the authority now has two years to formally submit it before the project can begin.

Found by chance

It will focus on collecting memories of military personnel, residents, evacuees and prisoners of war who were based in the forest between 1939 and 1945.

The project will also involve conducting surveys of WWII sites and the park authority will be looking for volunteers to take part.

Frank Green, archaeologist for the park authority, said: "Some of the World War II features are well-documented like the 12 airfields that were created in the forest and the building of the Mulberry Harbours at Lepe for D-Day.

Many soldiers from other parts of the world were stationed in the New Forest

"Others we come across by chance - a survey of the Cadland estate back in 2008 revealed 34 World War II features we didn't know about such as the remains of encampments, infantry trenches and air raid shelters.

"That's only a small area of the New Forest, so it shows the records that we have represent a very small part of the overall picture of the national park's wartime past.

"These features are critical in telling the story of the war, which in itself was instrumental in shaping our life today.

"If we do not begin to record these features now and piece together the stories that they tell, then they will soon be lost to future generations."

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