Singing sensation’s mum releases book on East Anglia after the Second World War

Joanna Eden, left, with mum Diana Snelling, whose book 'Captive in East Anglia' has just come out.

Joanna Eden, left, with mum Diana Snelling, whose book 'Captive in East Anglia' has just come out. - Credit: Archant

Singing sensation Joanna Eden is in the news again – but this time it’s her mum who’s hitting the headlines.

Captive in East Anglia is Diana Snelling’s second book, a far-reaching work which focuses on the experiences of German and Italian prisoners of war in East Anglia during and in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

“It started with one piece of information, and like topsy it grew and mushroomed,” said Diana, 69, who lives with her husband John in Wickford, Essex.

Together with photographer Rosemary Carter, whom she has known for more than 20 years, Diana set out to learn more about the fate of the POWs in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk

“In Radwinter there was a big prisoners of war camp near the Rectory [now Radwinter Manor],” Diana told the Reporter.

“The British realised they would have to re-educate some of the prisoners into a more democratic way of living life, and they held a series of talks and films there.”

East Anglia was home to half the 90,000 German and Italian prisoners of war in the UK.

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She added: “It was amazing how after the war country people practically opened up their homes to the prisoners. The prisoners were very grateful, and made toys for the children in the local communities.

“We decided we would make a book that didn’t seem like a text book, that was accessible to everyone, that wasn’t too long or thick,” said the former drama teacher, who is already thinking about her next work on the Home Guard.

Her daughter Joanna, who lives on Gold Street, Saffron Walden, said: “I have nothing but admiration for the way non-fiction writers research and immerse themselves in a topic. Mum was so involved in this book for two years and it’s great to see it in print. I’m very proud of her!”

Captive in East Anglia is illustrated and edited by Rosemary Carter, and published by Swan Bank Publishers. It is available for purchase at Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre.