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In the beginning of November 1943, all residents of Imber, a quiet little village at the heart of Salisbury Plain, were summoned to a meeting in the village schoolroom where they were informed that they had just 47 days to pack their bags and leave. The village, they were told, was required by the War Department in order to train American troops in street fighting which they will eventually encounter in Nazi occupied Europe after the hopefully successful invasion of Normandy.

This sudden and forced evacuation upset nearly all inhabitants. Albert Nash, who had been the village’s blacksmith for over forty years, was so heart broken that he died within weeks of receiving the notice. But the government had left the residents with no other alternative but to comply. Besides, during the years before the war, the War Department had systematically purchased all land around Imber, and many properties within the village itself, so  that only the village church, vicarage, chapel, schoolroom and the village inn stuck out like sore thumbs in what was essentially government land.

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The church in Imber. Photo credit: Ed Webster/Flickr

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