L’Alouette, Bognor, and the run up to D-Day

By Abigail Hartley, Searchroom Archivist

It’s a year of important anniversaries for World War Two, as later in September it will be 80 years since the start of the war, and, of course, the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings is also upon us.  It is only fitting, therefore, that the Record Office will be highlighting our fantastic Second World War records throughout the year.  To help commemorate, let’s look at one of our most impressive photographic collections – L’Alouette.  

Last month a blue plaque was placed in Bognor in remembrance of Frank L’Alouette on the site of his old shop, 32 West Street.  Born in Windsor on the 2 February 1901, he served an apprenticeship as a photographer’s assistant in Windsor. During the 1920s, he moved to Bognor Regis to work in the photographic department of Cleeves the Chemists in the High Street. In 1931 he bought the premises on West Street where he worked as a general photographer. When war broke out, Frank was unable to join due to a heart condition, but he obtained a Ministry of Information Permit and was able to capture some of the wartime events in and around Bognor Regis.

Frank married Doris Gray at St John’s Church on 30 October 1927 and they had three children: Jeanette, Pamela and Susan. The eldest daughters, Jeanette (or Jenny) and Pamela, appear in many of Frank’s wartime pictures.  The business was later known as Lalouette Photographic Dealers.  After the war he continued his photography business until his retirement in 1956, and he would pass away in 1968.

The Record Office has held his collection since 2012.  His several hundred photographs show the impact and the experiences of Bognor Regis as a town and community during the Second World War.  Above is a small gallery of some of his work.  We can see the impact the Army, RAF, Navy, Home Guard, ARP wardens and the general public had on Bognor’s wartime experience, and how life carried on for much of its populace, with a few notable (barbed wire looking) differences.

If you’d like to see his photographs, especially with the D-Day anniversary fast approaching, have a go at searching online on our catalogue, filling in L’Alouette in the CatalogueNo field, or popping into the Record Office, so we can show you the originals.  Some of his work is also available on Sussex Pictures to buy as prints!

Give us a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!  With the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War passing this year, we have a sneaky feeling his images will be cropping up often on your feeds!

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