SEVENTY-FIVE years ago the world was emerging from the nightmare of interminable war.

Few communities had remained untouched by the Second World War - and these photograph provide a glimpse of life in Otley during the years of conflict.

They appear in a book written by Dr Jason Knowles and published by Otley Town Council to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day and VJ Day. Otley - Memories of the Second World War is the story of the town and its people during those momentous years.

Dr Knowles said: “The 15th August 2020 marked 75 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the war in the Far East. The end of the conflict marked the culmination of nearly four years of fighting Japan and six years of World War. Enormous sacrifices, courage and determination had been made by millions of people at home and around the world, from all walks of life to bring peace.”

He added:”When war was declared on 3 September 1939, Otley had been preparing for the threat of air raids and gas attacks but what would six years of warfare mean to the people of Otley.

“The book draws on memories of Otley residents, personal stories, news reports and archive material. This is the story of those who were there; of people who would never accept the possibility of defeat, who coped with rationing, blackouts, conscription and bombing, who welcomed evacuees, greeted Allied troops with hospitality and lived alongside prisoners of war on their doorsteps.

“This book covers the story of wartime Otley, the role played in the war effort by local industry and agriculture, to those in the Armed Forces and Home Guard and eventually to the celebrations on VE-Day and VJ-Day.

“The book features photographs from the time and the stories of 26 people with connections to Otley. These stories include those of children growing up during the war, young men and women serving in in the Armed Forces and Auxiliary Territorial Service, stories of German prisoners of war incarcerated in Otley and the harrowing stories of becoming a prisoner of war in the Far East.”

These fascinating photographs, from Otley Museum and Archive Trust, the Second World War Experience Centre and The Wharfedale German Circle, show some of the ways in which life changed in the town during the long years of conflict.

In one image people can be seen digging air raid shelters, in another shot munitions workers pose proudly for the camera. Military and thanksgiving parades also feature, along with a civil defence workers canteen and a VE Day party.

The book also contains a picture of a watercolour by Lt Heinz Georg Lutz - a German officer who was imprisoned in a camp at Weston. Over the Barbed Wire Fence shows Croft Cottage, 105 Weston Lane – which is what he could see from his tent. Mr Lutz, who had survived the horrors of the Eastern front before being taken prisoner, returned to Germany after the war and was a highly regarded architect.

The book was designed by The Yorkshire Wordwright with production by Print Crew. It is available to order from the Otley Core Resource Centre priced £13 and will be of interest to anyone with a connection to Otley or an interest in the history of the town.

As part of the project there is also a short documentary film featuring Otley residents recalling their memories of the Second World War. The film, Memories of Wartime, has been produced by Otley-based Mark Currie of Catapult Films and has a running time of 25 minutes. A limited stock is available from Otley Core priced £5.