This book is not so much a historical evaluation, or analysis, as it is a personal perspective and recollection of village life during the war years in Cranleigh: its people, shops and businesses.
In some ways, the book sets an everyday scene of a simpler way of life, maintained in the face of great hardship. In others, it reflects the poignancy of the disaster, which unleashed its cataclysmic impact on normal people and their families, both from within the village and from among those who came to live in it, for ‘the duration’, as the war years became known.
This is captured through photographs, existing texts and records, eyewitness testimonies and the subjective memories and reflections of those who lived through those years, some of whom are still with us.
The book therefore contains many personal accounts, some of which invoke great sadness and pity, whilst others are hilarious and straight out of ‘Dad’s Army’. The overwhelming sense is one of stoicism and resolve, on the part of community which at once came together, rising from the outset and without hesitation, to meet a daunting and what must have seemed insurmountable challenge.
As such the book is a very valuable record, a lesson for our times, perhaps; a book which takes its own perspective, yet sits comfortably alongside the many other, equally valuable, historical records and accounts given by other local historians, who in some cases also lived through the six years of the war.
This book has been written with dedication and love for Cranleigh and its people, past and present, as well as the surrounding villages and hamlets, which form a unique small enclave in the Surrey Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty in more ways than one.