43rd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment on exercise in the New Forest

Rare colour photos taken of A and B squadron from the 43rd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment, 33rd Brigade undertaking a training exercise in Churchill Tanks on the New Forest around Wilverley Plain and Long Slade Bottom. After discussing the operation on the tank turret the squadron leader gives instructions to the tank commanders and they move out across the New Forest heath land to complete the exercise with some live firing.

We now know more information about this event following research in the War Diaries held in the National Archives. Reports on the days parading can be found in 3 different diary entries with differing levels of information.

War Diary Entry for the 43rd Battalion Royal Tank Regiment
13th August 1942 – 33 Tank Brigade paraded at full strength in battalion ‘Leagers’ for the benefit of 9th Infantry Brigade

War Diary Entry for the HQ 33rd Army Tank Brigade
13th August 1942 – Brigade parades at Long Slade Bottom in triangular Leager formations – very effective indeed and excellent demonstration is given to divisional spectators. The Tks merge in very well to rough heathland. Brigadier addresses spectators on loud speaker equipment.

War Diary Entry for the HQ 9th Infantry Brigade
13th August 1942 – Parade of tanks by 33rd Army Tank Brigade held at Long Slade Barrow 11:30hrs

All Photos are credit: Imperial War Museum for Non-Commercial Use (Licence)

There are also additional sets of photos and a British Pathe Video of Churchill Tanks in the New Forest:

Black and white photographs: Churchill Tanks of 33rd Army Tank Brigade manoeuvre en masse.

Series of photographs showing a standard day of operations for the 33rd Army Tank Brigade carrying out ordnance, tank recovery and repair operations at Burley: Tank recovery and repair operations by 33rd Army Tank Brigade at Burley.

British Pathe Video from 1942

Beaulieu Ice House

National park archaeologists are working with Beaulieu Estate to conserve and display an ice house that can be found on the estate grounds. As most of the structure is buried a laser scan of the ice house was commissioned creating a very detailed dataset to inform conservation work, but also provide an educational tool. You can see an animation created from the laser scanning below.

So what is an ice house? 

Brick underground ice houses can be found in the grounds of many large and not so large estates. In England, the first were constructed in the early 17th century by King James I who is credited with having one built at Greenwich in 1616. One of the earliest ice houses once existed in the grounds of the Queen’s House at Lyndhurst probably constructed before the end of the 17th century. They remained popular with wealthy landowners on their estates until the end of the 19th century when refrigeration was being introduced and ice was being produced commercially rather than being imported. Domestic refrigeration becoming more common from the 1920s onwards. The Beaulieu Ice house is a late example constructed in the 1870s.

The underground chambers provided a temperature controlled environment allowing ice cut from local fresh water supplies in winter or imported ice to be stored for long periods of time. The ice house typically contains a drain at its base that would have originally allowed waste water to drain away as ice melted. In many cases ice could remain in the ice house for anything between 12 and 18 months. The ice houses could also be used to store food at the same time as the ice thus prolonging it’s shelf life. As well as preserving food, ice could also be used to create a freezing compound in the ice house by combining it with salt. Placing a container within the freezing compound allows any liquid to be frozen and was the traditional method for producing ice cream.

The ventilator at the top of the internal dome of the Beaulieu ice house visible in the 3D animation below is an unusual feature and relates to its later use. During the Second World War the ice house became an apple store that allowed apples from the adjacent orchard to be kept many months after harvesting. Storing apples requires the space to be ventilated due to the CO2 they give off that would pool in the bottom of the ice house and be lethal.

The ice house is built from both red and also yellow (Beaulieu buff) bricks stamped ‘Beaulieu’ and made at the estate brickworks at Baileys Hard on the Beaulieu River (A similar project has been working to record the surviving kiln, which you can read about here: Beaulieu Brick Kiln). It is also worth noting that the Beaulieu ice house would have been covered by soil to increase it’s insulation, the soil has been removed at some point in the past.

Beaulieu ice house is a grade II listed building #1094424

Volunteers have been involved with cleaning and re-pointing the ice house and listed building consent will be sought to repair the break between the dome and the tunnel entrance.

Beaulieu Ice House Laser Scan Animation created by Archaeovision

Beaulieu Ice House 3D model for you to explore created by Archaeovision

 

Churchill Tanks of 33rd Army Tank Brigade manoeuvre en masse

A series of photos showing Churchill Tanks of 33rd Army Tank Brigade manoeuvring en masse near Brockenhurst in the New Forest, 13 August 1942.

The photos show Churchill Mk I Tanks with hull-mounted 3-inch guns. The units involved were 43 RTR, 144 RAC & 148 RAC all part of the 33rd Army Tank Brigade attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. It was noted that even though they were very heavy they could move at speed across any terrain including any New Forest obstacles.

We now know more information about this event following research in the War Diaries held in the National Archives; mentions of the days parading can be found in 3 different diary entries with differing levels of information.

War Diary Entry for the 43rd Battalion Royal Tank Regiment
13th August 1942 – 33 Tank Brigade paraded at full strength in battalion ‘Laegers’ for the benefit of 9th Infantry Brigade

War Diary Entry for the HQ 33rd Army Tank Brigade
13th August 1942 – Brigade parades at Long Slade Bottom in triangular Laeger formations – very effective indeed and excellent demonstration is reviewed by divisional spectators. The XX(word unreadable – see photo) is very well to rough heathland. Brigadier addresses spectators on loud speaker equipment.

War Diary Entry for the HQ 9th Infantry Brigade
13th August 1942 – Parade of tanks by 33rd Army Tank Brigade held at Long Slade Barrow 11:30hrs

All Photos are credit: Imperial War Museum for Non-Commercial Use (Licence)

This was obviously an important event as there is an additional set of colour photos: Colour Photos of the 43rd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment, 33rd Brigade on exercise in the New Forest.

Along with a film piece available through British Pathe

Churchills Unlimited 1942

 

There also a series of photographs showing a standard day of operations for the 33rd Army Tank Brigade carrying out ordnance, tank recovery and repair operations at Burley: Tank recovery and repair operations by 33rd Army Tank Brigade at Burley.

 

 

Early Military Button – Can you help us Identify it?

This coin was found on the New Forest coastline near Lymington. We would like to try and identify the crest.

Crest contains a Portcullis topped by a helmet with a text banner underneath and supported by a lion on the sinister side and possibly another lion on the Dexter side?

Home Guard: Crofton collection

A collection of military orders, letters, defence plans and hand drawn maps lovingly kept in a huge elegant scrap book by Major Crofton’s father, Sir Morgan Crofton.

His father was 2nd Commander of the 9th Forest Battalion. Later a branch was formed in Christchurch which covered the south west area of the Forest, the 28th Christchurch Bay Battalion, and his father was Commander of this Battalion.  The documents relate to the Home Guard period and includes detailed maps drawn by his father and original documents.

One of the many hand drawn maps by Sir Morgan Crofton, shows the Brockenhurst Platoon Defence Scheme dated 1943.  This map shows the positions of HQ’s (company and platoon level head quarters), tank traps and other military buildings or posts.  Is it a unique collection of documentation that probably should have been destroyed once it was read.  We are very thankful to Major Crofton for allowing us to view and show his father’s collection.

Can you help?
To help the search tool for this site find terms in these pages we need them to be transcribed. If you can help, please login look at some of the articles below and help us transcribe pages from this amazing collection.

All material is © NFNPA. Crofton. www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/wwii

 

Follow the links below to see the other items in the Crofton collection.

A number of photographs have been offered by St Barbe Museum showing the Home Guard and these have been link to this article.

Local historian John Pidgeon has also made some Home Guard papers available

The New Forest Register of Decisions of Claims to Forest Rights

A Review by Peter Roberts

The New Forest Register of Decisions of Claims to Forest Rights published in 1858 is the handbook of who is entitled to what on the New Forest. In many commoning families it is regarded as the ‘bible’ of the Forest. Following inquries into the management of all the Royal Forests a decade earlier it was decided that updating the register of claims would be an important part of valuing the New Forest. The 1848 inquiry concluded that a separation of commoners rights from crown rights would be of advantage to the crown. The deer would be removed and more land could be set aside for timber plantations.

The book was one of the famous government ‘blue books’ printed by Eyre and Spottiswood for Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. The Eyre was George Eyre a member of the family still resident in Bramshaw who have been active for many generations in Forest affairs. One thousand three hundred and eleven claims are listed in the book, all are shown as either amended or disallowed. Apart from the claim number they give name, address and occupation of the claimant, the date the decision was made, the nature of the claim as amended and the size and location of the lands to which they refer.

The claims are for common of pasture, turbary, mast, fuel wood, sheep and marl. The first is the most important today allowing the successful claimant to depasture ponies, donkeys or cattle on the Forest.

Right Allowed
Pasture Ponies, Donkeys, Cattle
Turbary Cutting turf for burning
Mast Pigs to eat acorns in the autumn
Fuel wood Wood for burning
Sheep Sheep pasture, rare
Marl Clay like fertilizer

The claim here by Joseph Short, Lyndhurst’s grocer, for tithe areas 209 and 177 cover the land now occupied by the car park and New Forest Centre. It looks as if the Centre could run ponies and pigs on the Forest for the right goes with occupancy of land and not the individual. This is also a reminder that for most people commoning was part of their way of life but not the only means by which they earned a living.

This book provides the basis for modern day claims although for ease of use the tithe numbers in the claims book have been transferred to an Atlas, a copy of which is held by the Verderers’ Clerk in Lyndhurst