Bridgend in World War 2
For most people in Britain, World War 2 was encountered on the ‘Home Front.’ Blackouts, rationing, evacuees, air raids, and the risk of invasion all contributed to both a feeling of anxiety and a deepening sense of community.
In Bridgend, the vast Royal Ordnance Factory at Brackla and Waterton, and the Island Farm Prisoner of War Camp brought the war even closer. 32,000 workers, mostly women, travelled every day from all over Glamorgan to the factory where they performed the vital and dangerous role of filling bombs and shells with explosives. German prisoners were regularly visible around town as they marched from the camp at Island Farm to work on the railway sidings. The dramatic escape in 1945 led to a week of excitement and fear as young and old alike stayed alert for any sign of the missing men.
Despite the difficulties brought by the war, morale was high in Bridgend. The drive for war bonds met a very enthusiastic response. Warship Week saw Glamorgan rank 4th overall in England and Wales for money raised per person. The Gorsedd Stones were placed in Newbridge Fields for the National Eisteddfod of Wales that would be delayed by the war until 1948. This period saw other developments, such as the opening of a Bridgend Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Embassy cinema.