Lamouth Creek, on the upper reaches of the Fal Estuary, is where Johann and his comrades washed up in their rubber dinghy in the Prologue. The walk round the creek to Roundwood Quay is part of the Trelissick Estate owned by the National Trust and makes for a pleasant afternoon stroll.
The port of Padstow is at the northern end of the Bodmin Stop Line. This is where the Major met Commander Campbell. It is still possible to find the platform of the town’s old railway station from which the Major made his flying leap onto the train for Bodmin.
Padstow Gun Point
The Coastal Defence Battery at the northern end of the Bodmin Stop Line was sited at Gun Point, Padstow. It is seen here in October 1940. It was the preparations for this battery the Major inspected after his meeting with Commander Campbell. The walk out to Gun Point from Padstow provides delightful views of the Camel Estuary. The gun platforms and ready use lockers can be found quite easily.
Pendennis Castle, first built by Henry VIII, was a crucial part of the defence of Falmouth – a Category A ‘defended at all costs’ port - in 1940. The Major was on his way here for a meeting when he witnessed the bombing of Falmouth Docks. The Castle, managed now by English Heritage, is worth a visit and many of its World War Two defences are on show. A walk round the headland is also worth doing to find the remains of the 6 pounder gun batteries and the searchlights at the water’s edge looking towards to St Mawes.
Bodmin Wireless Station
The Bodmin Beam Wireless Station was the first of its kind in the UK and in the war was a vital link to Canada, South Africa and the United States. This old postcard shows the A30 passing the wireless station. It was here Johann burst through the roadblock and made off across Innis Downs.
Lostwithiel New Bridge
Lostwithiel New Bridge takes the A39 over the River Fowey. It had opened in 1939 and it was the defences in front of this vital crossing point that the Major was inspecting when he first met Captain Cregoe. There is no sign of any of the defences today but the bridge and the road are the same as 1940.
St Issey Auxiliary Unit Operational Base
The Operational Base of the St Issey Auxiliary Unit has lost its entrance tunnel but is otherwise one of the best preserved in Cornwall. It is on private land and should only be viewed with permission. The escape tunnel was where the Major discovered the body of Intelligence Officer Carlyle.
Victoria Barracks, Bodmin
The gateway into the Keep of the Victoria Barracks, Bodmin features several times in the book. The Depot of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry was Southern Command’s Cornwall Sub Area Headquarters and it was from here Cornwall received the codeword ‘Cromwell’ on Saturday 7th September 1940 meaning invasion imminent. The Keep houses a superb military museum that is well worth a visit.
Concert at the Public Rooms, Bodmin
The Public Rooms on Bodmin’s Mount Folly were the scene of much wartime entertainment. Here, Stanley Coleman, a Jamaican dancer trained at the Fred Astaire School, performs with the Bombshells, a local dance troupe made up of young women in the armed forces. Today the Public Rooms houses Bodmin’s cinema, but in the rooms that were used by the YMCA during the war is the small Town Museum which is well worth a visit.
Lantic Bay is one of the most beautiful unspoilt bays in Cornwall. Reached only by a steep footpath, it was on this south coast beach near Polruan that Johann and the Major meet in the book’s thrilling climax. Sorry, no spoilers here!