Agencies protecting Somerset Levels could learn from experiences in the Fens

In 1947 tens of thousands of acres in the southern Fens were inundated on an even greater scale than the Somerset Levels.

The floods were caused by excessive rain and high-rising tides.

The army was sent in with pumps and physical labour to support Fenmen and plug breached banks. German prisoners of war helped and they complained they were not receiving enough to eat.

Isle of Ely MP Major Harry Legge-Bourke brought the matter to parliament personnel - and army personnel and prisoners were given more food, principally meat and cheese, to strengthen them (wartime rations were still in force).

I cycled to Crowland to observe army trucks and tanks being lowered into a breach on the Welland river bank. When I decided to return home the road was flooded two-and-a-half feet deep and I was obliged to make a 35-mile detour!


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This was before a relief river was made and an improved pumping system came into being in the Fens.

The 350-year-old washland already played a huge part in preventing pressure on the river banks and dredging took place frequently.

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Agencies supposedly protecting the Somerset Levels might learn from our experiences and appropriate action in the Fens.

TREVOR BEVIS

St Peter’s Road

March

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