New Forest at war

Trainees learn jungle tactics for the Pacific War

Both world wars encompassed every aspect of life in the New Forest. Evidence of their effects on the environment and population of the area can still be seen today.

Forest timber was hugely important in both wars because Britain was unable to rely on imports and had to be as self-sufficient as possible. Around 2,000 acres of broadleaved timber were felled during World War I and were replaced with faster growing coniferous trees, almost all of which were felled during World War II.

Portugese Fireplace

An unusual forest landmark, the Portuguese Fireplace near Emery Down, marks the former cookhouse of the Portuguese army unit.  During the First World War this unit assisted the depleted local labour force in producing timber for the war effort, and the fireplace has been kept and renovated as a memorial.  

In the World War II, local timber - in particular alder woodland - was felled and burned to provide the charcoal absorbers in around 40-million gas masks.

Photo Copyright: Imperial War Museum

  1. New Forest at war (you are here)
  2. The New Forest during World War I
  3. The New Forest during World War II


New Forest Remembers

Find out about the vital role the New Forest played in World War II and how you can get involved in the project.

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