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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
'Ghost village' remembered 60 years on
St Giles
St Giles is opened on an occasional basis
Sixty years ago, villagers left their homes at Imber, Wiltshire, to allow the area to be used for military training. They were never allowed to move back.

In 1943, residents of the Salisbury Plain village were told US troops needed to train for street fighting in Europe, in the battle against the Nazis.

Villagers left their homes intact - including tinned food in larders - after Imber was requisitioned by the War Office.

They were told they could return at the end of hostilities, but Imber is still used for live fire training and exercises, and is now abandoned.

It appears on few maps and has long had its road signs removed.

We can't forget about it - but the residents' children would not come back now
Don Wells

This year is the 60th anniversary of the closure, and locals are still aggrieved.

One told the BBC: "People here are still very angry and very upset, although time is a great healer."

But the Americans are still remembered kindly.

"They looked after the place beautifully," said one local. "Not a cup or a saucer was broken."

Imber had also been used for live exercises in World War I - it was not evacuated then, and no-one was injured.

On Saturday, a new altar cross was dedicated at the village church, St Giles.

A preservation society tries to get the village church reopened every Easter.

Campaigners are continuing a 1m appeal to restore the church so it can be opened more often.

'Moved on'

Many ex-residents would still like to see the village re-opened.

But some doubt it could function again after so long.

Don Wells said: "Most of the locals have moved on.

"We can't forget about it, but the residents' children would not come back now.

"What is here for them now?"

'Ghost village' hosts wedding
21 Dec 02  |  England


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