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- This is the Linby Trail,
near the little village of Linby in Nottinghamshire, in England.
I'm filming on the trail because it'd be really weird
to do a walk-and-talk to a camera on a stick
in a little village.
This is one of those stories about war where no one dies,
no one even gets hurt,
and, for a little while, there's this bit of light
in the middle of something terrible.
So, World War II, 1941.
Britain is being bombed every night by the Luftwaffe.
Over in Germany, William Joyce broadcasts fascist propaganda
over the radio to the UK, trying to demoralise the British public.
The press nickname him Lord Haw-Haw
because of his affected upper-class accent.
Sometimes, Lord Haw-Haw would forecast
which towns and places would be bombed next,
and he was eerily accurate.
And on one of his broadcasts, he threatened Linby Docks.
Dockyards were strategic bombing targets; of course they were.
But Linby Docks aren't dockyards at all.
They're these little streams that run through the village of Linby.
The docks are just a local name.
But Luftwaffe commanders had looked at the map,
seen Linby Docks, and decided to waste some of their limited war-fighting resources
on bombing something that, while quite pretty,
was strategically useless.
Oh, and they missed.
The bombs landed a couple of miles away.
No one was even slightly hurt,
although presumably one farmer's field
had some unexpected and rather violent ploughing done to it.
It's a lovely story.
It's part of the local mythos here in Linby.
You'll find articles about it online
and it's referenced on the lovely little parish map
that is next to the bus shelter.
And I'm really, really sorry to Linby,
but I'm not sure it's true.
Because if you look at the maps from back then,
they didn't say 'Linby Docks' on them.
Of course they didn't.
These streams are so small that they are barely even marked
on the largest-scale maps.
If Germany was using maps that were that detailed
and that precise, well, then they could tell
that the docks weren't big enough to have any ships in them.
And if they weren't using maps that detailed,
well then the docks wouldn't be marked on them at all.
Lord Haw-Haw, that propaganda broadcaster,
he didn't actually give away secret plans
or announce bombing raids in advance. Of course he didn't!
The Luftwaffe didn't want to give advance warning
so they could be shot down.
So, he just lied or relied on reports
that came back in the news
in the hope that he would be right enough
to convince the British public, who weren't fools.
A lot of folks tuned in to him, a few million,
but it was mostly for entertainment.
There's an argument that rather than hurt morale,
he actually helped British solidarity.
And there aren't many recordings of him;
there's certainly no audio of him saying 'Linby Docks' that I could find.
The Blitz was logged in detail by all the local authorities
and all the records were compiled.
Hucknall, the nearby town, is mentioned twice,
but Linby isn't mentioned at all.
I searched through all the relevant local newspapers,
they've been digitised, and they have no articles
about any bombings near here.
I even asked the local historical society, and they were wonderful,
they went through a lot of documents for me.
But there's nothing from the time that backs it up,
just folklore and stories told from parent to child,
from elder to youth, for maybe the last 80 years,
which does hurt a little, because it's such a wonderful story.
Now, if I present something like this to the world
and say, "I don't know," there's a tendency for certain overenthusiastic people
to see it as a mystery and try to solve it.
The only people who know for sure are over 90 years old
and, look, no one should bother them
trying to disprove or prove one bit of local folklore.
Besides, I'm only in my thirties and I've occasionally had moments
where I've recalled clear memories of things
that evidence later showed me I have had completely wrong.
But the bomb records are not perfect.
Newspapers back then might not have mentioned it
because "Bomb Lands in Field, No One Hurt" is not a story,
at least not in 1941; it would be today.
Maybe it did happen.
Or maybe someone came up with a story once,
told it as truth, and everyone thought,
"Sure, that sounds fun, let's go with it."
I am expected to provide evidence for claims, rightly so.
But there are countless tales that never happened.
We call them urban legends or eventually just legends.
Did King Alfred really burn the cakes?
Probably not. Does it matter?
Over a long enough period of time, no, not really.
I don't think something like this
needs to be proven or debunked, even if it somehow could be.
It's just a good story.
Thanks to the historians and archives who helped me with my research.
I have put links in the description.