Littleport’s Phoney War – A Period Exhibition and Film Show

Preparing for Invasion

The old Blockhouse near the edge of a field on the left as you travel beside the river towards Queen Adelaide from The Swan on the River, formerly The Black Horse pub, is a reminder of what was going on all over East Anglia and the South East of England eighty years ago.

From September 1939, in ports all along the northern coast of mainland Europe, Hitler was massing barges full of military hardware in preparation for his invasion of our country.

Was your great-grandfather a member of Dad’s Army?

The threat was real and frantic preparations were being made to repel a potent aggressor. The situation is graphically illustrated in a 3-minute, Movietone News Report entitled ‘Littleport’s War Weapons Week Begins’.

This short film will be shown and in addition there will be an exhibition of the Littleport Society’s own collection from those times, a display of 1939 paraphernalia and re-enactors in period costume including an usherette from the local Empire Cinema.

The aim of the event is to meet local people who either remember those dark days or have been told about them by previous generations. Was your great-grandfather a member of Dad’s Army?

The Battle of Heligoland Bight

The Littleport Society is being supported by The Heligoland39 Project, which has been researching the first named air-battle of World War Two. This work has involved a worldwide search for the relatives of the 59 airmen who were killed in action on the 18th December 1939.

A 35-minute film presentation will feature the history of the RAF’s first major encounter with the Luftwaffe of the War, a baptism of fire for both. It goes on to show the 80th Anniversary Year Commemorations, beginning at Ely Cathedral in December 2018 and culminating at the RAF Memorial, Runnymede exactly a year later.

RAF Littleport

Littleport’s connection with The Battle of Heligoland Bight was revealed in a BBC series called ‘Who Do You Think You Are’. The actress Minnie Driver was delving into her late father’s past in an edition first broadcast nationally in 2013. This documentary will be re-screened at the event.

Driver was an 18-year old air gunner on the Heligoland Raid. His Wellington bomber escaped the Luftwaffe that day but had to ditch in the North Sea before reaching England.

Ronnie managed to get three of his injured crew out of the sinking bomber and into a life raft. The rear gunner had already been killed in the battle and went down with the Wellington.

Emerging from this experience a damaged young man, AC2 Driver was first admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Matlock for treatment. Subsequently he was transferred to RAF Littleport for recovery, from where he was discharged in December 1940.

Today RAF Littleport is The Littleport Grange Care Home. During the War it was the forerunner of the RAF Hospital in Ely, which was being planned during the Phoney War.

For further information contact: or Phone 01353 861547 1pm to 4pm Tuesdays

Leave a Comment