November 1, 1943, was just a normal day in the village of Imber until its inhabitants were given news that would change their lives forever.

They were called to a meeting by the Ministry of Defence and told their village was going to be used by American troops to train in street fighting.

They couldn’t have known then that this was vital for forces destined to land in Normandy seven months later.

All the villagers knew was that they had 47 days to leave. But they took it with true wartime spirit and left – after being told they could return in six months.

But after the war the village was deemed too close to shelling areas and had suffered too much damage. 

The village is still used by the British Army today, despite a number of attempts by the villagers to return.

Villager Derrick Mitchell, who died aged 81 in 2009, recalled seeing the villagers emerge from the meeting when they were given notice to leave.

He said: “There was no hostility. Imber people were always docile, hard working and took it in their stride once the news had sunk in.”

The village is usually open to the public for up to 50 days a year subject to Ministry of Defence requirements.