LIVES are practically played out online.

Holiday destinations, occasions and even what’s on the menu for breakfast, dinner and tea, have been put out for public consumption.

Imagine then, all those years ago, the ordinary folk employed in extraordinary roles as part of the Second World War effort. These were tales of considerable interest, yet those involved in all manner of secret missions, the code breakers, the plotters whose duty involved keeping quiet did just that.

Colin Philpott’s latest book ‘Secret Wartime Britain - Hidden Places That Helped Win the Second World War’ is to explore why these people stayed so loyal and how silence remained beyond the grave.

Gwen Adsley, now in her nineties, didn’t even tell her parents of her role as a code breaker at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire. Gwen recalls signing the Official Secrets Act and being told by the man in charge that the most important thing was secrecy - even after the war....

The author also talks of Joan Fanshawe’s crucial role as a plotter within her windowless workplace devoid of natural light, the Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge, London. A member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), Joan’s role was marking on the control map the location and aircraft formations both German and British on the basis of information.

Never did they utter a word of what they did - not even to loved ones and that, explains the author, is largely down to the fact that divulging any information could jeopardise the lives of those fighting on the front line or, for some, it was ‘simply a matter of honour.’ ‘They signed the Act and took it seriously.’

Encouraged by anti rumour and ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ posters produced by the Ministry of Information, what they did stayed within the confines of the workplaces which were often ‘hidden in plain sight.’

Avro - a site now occupied by Leeds Bradford Airport Industrial Estate - is the perfect example. Its roof previously camouflaged in grass and complimented with imitation farm buildings and dummy animals giving the air-born impression of agricultural land rather than the complex operations within as more than 10,000 employees, predominantly women, wired electrical components for the likes of Lancaster bombers, Avro Ansons and other aircraft thus contributing to Britain’s military might in the skies.

Evelyn Philip was among those employed at Avro on a shift system to maintain 24 hour continuous production. All were bound by the Official Secrets Act - maintaining their silence long after the war had ended.

What is evident in this remarkable read is ‘that the vast majority of Britons pulled together, part of which included, to use the slang of the time, ‘Keeping Mum’ about things which might benefit the enemy,’ writes Colin.

Living in Yorkshire, Colin is a former director of the National Media Museum in Bradford. Interestingly, the former BBC programme maker and journalist for 25 years uses his research and experience to document the BBC’s role and the contingencies put in place for the corporation to cope and keep broadcasting during bombing.

He explains how Wood Norton Hall near Evesham, Worcestershire, was bought by the BBC in 1939. By early 1940 it had become one of the biggest broadcasting centres in Europe. Although never bombed, an accidental fire did cause some disruption. Broadcasting House, London, was affected by bombing on two occasions but remained operational throughout the war.

Closer to home, Blackpool Tower, was used as a Chain Home Radar receiving station for a short time monitoring the Irish Sea; RAF Staxton Wold, near Scarborough, described as the oldest surviving operational radar station in the world was operational from April 1939 as part of the Chain Home network and is still in use today as a remote radar head station.

And what about the subterranean command and control centres? Even the word ‘bunker’ evokes a sense of intrigue, more so at times when secrecy was paramount to the protection of the country and its people.

Yorkshire also had a part to play in the protection of the country’s art treasures with Skipton Castle providing storage space along with the more unusual confines of London tube stations. And it wasn’t just art we were harbouring - Goldsborough Station near Knaresborough provided cold storage for emergency food supplies.

Would people stay silent today? It’s questionable considering every cough and spit tends to be shared on social media and something to which the author alludes when discussing how it was far more difficult to spread information than as it is now and how the propaganda messages of ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ and other campaigns appeared to resonate with people.

‘Secret Wartime Britain - Hidden Places That Helped Win The Second World War’ is an intriguing and insightful read. A brilliant book. It is published by Pen and Sword and priced at £25. Visit