The world is currently battling the pandemic Covid-19.

Lives are in danger, medical staff stretched to the limit and the public are being advised to work from home.

If the clampdown on hospitality and travel businesses is sustained, it could see people being forced out of work.

We are being put into a situation the like of which has not been seen since the Second World War.

But what was Clacton like in preparation for the war?

Clacton was a base to thousands of troops, home to tanks, transport vehicles, half tracks and guns.

Within the months leading up to the war, Clacton had 800 unemployed people in January 1939 and there was a march through the town by 50 of them behind a drummer.

There were many banners and shouts of “Appease the unemployed not the dictators”.

Butlins’s Winter Club was very popular with the locals. Billiards, cards and darts were played. One man wrote to the Clacton Times that darts has been banned in pubs in Glasgow as too dangerous.

As war beckoned, the old famous Butlins holiday camp was used as accommodation for the soldiers.

Clacton historian George Hardwick said: “Christmas 1938 had been a white Christmas and the bad weather continued into January.

The council had allowed £30 for the whole year for clearing snow off the roads.

“By January 7, the cost was already £300.

“January 1939 was the wettest January for 70 years and the Burrsville Park and District Ratepayers Association complained yet again about the main drainage or lack of it.

“Many ditches had overflowed and there were hundreds of rats.

“The council also talked about the need for hot seawater baths on the seafront.

“Let’s have some cold water in Burrsville first!” one councillor shouted out.

“There was glorious weather in Easter 1939.

“The local paper announced providing European tension eases and another crisis is not sprung on us in the meantime, there is no reason why Clacton should not make up for last year’s shortcomings.”

At the Blue Lagoon on Clacton Pier on Easter Saturday afternoon and in the evening, the dance floor was packed.

Cyril Harrop played the Wonder Organ and ‘Teddy Dobbs and his Blue Lagooners entertained.

At the end of April 1939 there was a tremendous fire at Bryan’s Garage in Old Road.

People nearby were disturbed by the popping of car tanks and many families thought it was an air raid.

In total, 30 cars, two new lorries and the St John ‘s Ambulance were destroyed.

The fire brigade had been criticised for purchasing a new turn-table but it proved useful pouring water on to the roof of the garage.

Butlins kindly paid for a new emergency ambulance for the town.

Preparations began on March 25, the siren was tested at Clacton police station for two minutes.

However, the residents of Holland couldn’t hear anything.

On the site of the telephone exchange in the High Street used to be Clacton’s most famous boy’s school, Ascham College.

In the spring the college building was used by the ARP as their headquarters.

It was here the committee met to discuss the digging of trenches in Clacton.

On the London Road Sports Ground, a trench 70 yards long, six feet six inches wide and one yard deep was to be dug.

Altogether 490 yards of trenches were planned for the town and it was estimated that three people would fit in each yard of trench.

But that was only room for 1,470 Clacton residents.

Clacton was well-prepared and by early 1939 first aid points and decontamination centres in case of gas attacks had been set up.

Nearly 400 people had volunteered to help in a variety of ways as the country faced the threat of war.

In all, 25,000 gas masks were acquired and had been distributed to residents by the end of 1938 and in April 1939, 70,000 sandbags arrived. Those masks might well be appreciated in the present day and perhaps 70,000 toilet rolls rather than sandbags for those self isolating.