TYNEDALE AT WAR, 1939-45, by Brian Tilley. Published by Pen and Sword Books (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk). £12.99. Softback.

BRAWLING Australians, Polish pilots burning to seek revenge for the German invasion of their country, the German officer who drowned while trying to escape from a South Tyne prisoner of war camp, and the pub landlady who watered down her gin in order, she claimed, to prevent naïve Land Army girls getting drunk – it was all part of life in Tynedale as the district went to war.

Many men from Tynedale lost their lives on active service and there were tragedies on the Home Front too. At remote Coanwood 24 men were left dead or seriously injured when a training exercise went badly wrong, and an exploding ammunition train at Hexham railway station left three men dead.

This book deals with the everyday impact of six years of war on the district, from the arrival of gravely wounded soldiers from Dunkirk at Hexham Emergency Hospital through to dealing with thousands of often louse-ridden evacuees from industrial Tyneside, the heroics of local servicemen and the antics of the Home Guard.