• Sarah


In 1943 when Britain was in the grip of World War II, the decision was taken by the Allied leaders to invade France. As plans were made for Operation Overlord, there was a need for somewhere to train over 150,000 men.

The war cabinet selected suitable locations, and within weeks residents of these villages were given formal notice to leave their homes. Of the villages specifically requisitioned for D-Day, two can still be visited today, Imber in Salisbury Plain and Tyneham in Dorset.

People walking amongst the ruins of Tyneham
Visitors exploring the abandoned village of Tyneham

Tyneham and Imber are two small villages 60 miles apart in the south of England, with similar origins and a strikingly similar fate. For in 1943 they were reluctantly abandoned by their residents and handed over to the military for training D-Day troops. Although both were due to be returned to the residents after the war, neither village was. So today these once loved communities stand derelict, tumbling down and subject to the ravages of time.

Although potentially rather forlorn and neglected, these villages offer something unique to the historian as they have not been subjected to modernisation, commercialisation or anything else that comes along in the name of progress. They offer a faded snapshot of village life in 1943 and enable the onlooker to imagine just how life might have been 80 years ago in rural England.

Ruined cottages with trees growig around and in them.