#NewForest: using social media and mobile data to manage our heritage – Abstract & Video

The following paper was presented at the New Forest Knowledge Conference 2017 entitled: New Forest Historical Research and Archaeology: who’s doing it? Below you will find the abstract of the paper and a video of the paper given if permission to film it was given by the speaker.

Speaker:

Lawrence Shaw, New Forest National Park Authority & University of Winchester

Abstract

In recent years, funding bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Higher Level Stewardship schemes have help facilitate the development of volunteer lead heritage recording programs in the New Forest. Overseen by project officers, these not only help to record and protect archaeological assets but also engages local residents with this unique protected landscape. Whilst proven to be successful in their aims, these approaches regularly misses out on the engagement of younger audiences. Much like the rest of the heritage sector, 12-24 year olds have rarely engaged with this work, yet the importance of educating this age group with these landscapes is still as important as ever, not least because they will inherit these national assets in years to come. This research has looked to tackle this issue through the utilisation of new Big Data sets including social media and anonymised mobile data to help officers understand how this hard to reach audience see and uses the New Forest. By understanding this it may then be possible to develop new projects that engage this hard to reach audience in a way that was not previously possible whilst also gaining vital citizen science data that can be used to record and enhance the New Forest’s special heritage.

The Talk

1944 New Forest Diary Entry

The Forest is the greatest of all ironies. The gentle running streams, the majestic trees, the breath taking views, the animals that roam as free as they wish, while men who come here in time of war have no freedom, no majesty, no gentleness, for we are unwittingly engaged in the destruction of Forest lands with our Tanks, our airfields, our camps and our heavy boots upon the rich earth. We are hardened because we are prepared for what war will throw at us now.

It is in the rich soil of our country that we repatriate and lay our dead who from this Forest set out to win freedom, their lives then shortened by the bullet and the bomb. Yet in years to come the trees will still grow, the streams will still flow while our history fades beneath the feet of future generations who may ask, what happened here in this place of such enduring beauty.

Maurice Thomas, 1944

The above extract is from a soldier’s diary dated 1944 around the time of D Day and is reporduced with the permission of John Leete, the full extract will be appearing in his New Forest At War book to be released soon. Discover more: Here

2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers training in Lyndhurst

A series of photos following the training exercises of 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers with Light Machine Guns on Whitemoor, Lyndhurst. The series follows them carrying their light machine guns, setting them up for firing practice. The photos also show how they can be set up in the back of trucks and be used for light anti-aircraft defence work. In one of the photos you can see the trucks driving towards Lyndhurst and the war memorial at Bolton’s Bench.

On the tail flaps of the Bedford 15cwt trucks you can see a Viking longboat badge (left). This is a Tac-Sign used to identify different units. The Viking longboat Tac-Sign refers to the 5th Corps HQ.

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

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

A day trip to the beach at Milford on Sea

A set of photos taken by 22/318 Staff Nurse Elfrida Anne Parkinson depict a day visit of convalescing New Zealand soldiers based at No1 New Zealand General Hospital in Brockenhurst to the beach at Milford on Sea for a day out and picnic.

In 1916, the temporary military hospital established in Brockenhurst in 1914 to treat Indian service personnel who had been injured while serving in France, was taken over by the New Zealand authorities and became No 1 New Zealand General Hospital.   It was one of three general hospitals in the UK which were staffed and operated by the New Zealand Medical Corps to care for wounded members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

The hospital consisted of a main tented and hutted section, known as “Tin Town” located at what is now Tile Barn Outdoor Centre, together with minor medical sections at Balmer Lawns and Forest Park and several auxiliary hospitals in and around Brockenhurst.

It appears that Elfrida Anne Parkinson was based at Balmer Lawn as this is where most of her photos were taken.

There are another set of photos from a day trip and picnic to the Rufus Stone: here

You can find out more about the New Zealand General Hospital and its satellite sites: here

A New Forest Spitfire

This picture shows James Shaw sitting in a Vickers Supermarine Spitfire at Eastleigh Airport.

The Spitfire is called the New Forest.

Throughout the Second World War, the British people were encouraged to save money and invest it in the war effort. National Savings campaigns on service themes were organised each year and local newspapers were full of advertising for them and their associated publicity events.

Special drives with various local activities were organised annually in the war years starting with the National Savings Week of June 1940 and followed by War Weapons Week, Warships Week, Wings for Victory, Salute the Soldier and Thanksgiving Week in subsequent years.

The Spitfire funds of 1940 represented tangible evidence for the support of the RAF by the British public. At that time enemy aircraft ranged over the skies of Southern Britain and with RAF planes flying from many Hampshire airfields, many local residents would have been familiar with the efforts of the young allied pilots. The bombing of Southampton, Portsmouth and many other places, combined with the crashes of numerous hostile aircraft, would have re-inforced the desirability of more fighters.

The idea of presenting planes had begun in the First World War and in the Summer of 1940 every other Spitfire off the production line had been donated. A nominal sum of £5,000 had been quoted as the cost of a Spitfire and in addition to individuals who provided a plane, local funds were started up all over the country and indeed the Commonwealth. However presenting an aircraft was in fact a nominal term as no additional planes were built. It was not possible to order individual aircraft as the factories were already in full production on Government contracts.

In Hampshire the campaign seems to have been launched following a letter from Dr HM King, a teacher at Taunton’s School in Southampton (later an MP and Speaker of the House of Commons), in the Hampshire Chronicle on 27 July 1940. The next edition of the weekly paper included an appeal to farmers, farm workers and everyone interested in the countryside for a Hampshire Agricultural Fighter Plane.

On 10 August the Mayor of Winchester opened an appeal for Winchester and District. Dr King wrote again the following week reporting that “a countywide campaign was springing up in Hampshire to raise Spitfires for the nation. Portsmouth was first in the field with two, Gosport, New Forest and Winchester are raising one (Is this the one in the picture?), Bournemouth and Southampton were stirring and Eastleigh would shortly be at work”.

There was even a campaign by a Cedarwood Pug-owning resident of Itchen Abbas who started an “Our dogs Dog Fighter Fund” to present a Spitfire from the dogs of England!

Do you have any more information about the ‘New Forest’ Spitfire or other local fundraising campaigns then please share them on this portal.

R J Mitchell’s Spitfire is the iconic plane of WWII that has it’s origins in the constant development work undertaken by Mitchell at Supermarine for the Schneider Trophy at Calshot between the First and Second World War.

Aerolite – A Royal Visit in 1944

Aerolite was the codename given to the visit on May 24th 1944 when King George VI came to review the assembled Eastern Task Force invasion fleet.

The following is a transcription from the diary of King George VI – Wednesday May 24th 1944

Wednesday May 24th

I motored to Exbury, which is now a naval shore base, H.M.S.”Mastodon”, where landing craft crews are trained. I spent the day with the Eastern Task Force to see the officers & men of the British Naval Assault Forces in Overlord. I was met by Admiral Sir B. Ramsay, Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Force, Rear Admiral, Sir P. Vian, Naval Commander Eastern Task Force & others. We went by barge, the Royal Yacht barge, down the Beaulieu River out into the Solent passing landing craft. I went on board the “Bulolo” Command Ship, Force “G”, Commander Douglas-Pennant, the “Langs” Command Ship, Force “S”, Rear Admiral A.G. Talbot and I saw Force “J” ashore at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, Commodore Oliver. From here I saw all the landing craft in Portsmouth Harbour & lunched on board the cruiser “Scylla”, Rear Admiral Vian’s flagship. I went in a Naval Rescue Motor Launch to Southampton Water & the Hamble River passed all the landing craft there. I must have seen over 300 landing crafts and other ships attached in the command. I spent a most interesting day. I got back to Wilton at 6:30 pm.

(This transcription has been made with the permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. No unauthorised reproduction is permitted)

He was to arrive at H.M.S. Mastodon at 9.30 a.m. where Captain Swinley and the ship’s company would provide the guard of honour. He would then proceed to Gilbury and board the Royal Barge.

This gave rise to great excitement amongst the Wrens, however the Captain (a misogynist of note!) confined them to the upstairs rooms of the House, only allowing the male ratings to be inspected on the lawn in front of the House. Others remember that some of the WRENs were allowed to stand in the Ha-ha, so only a line of hats were visible for inspection. They also sneaked into the shrubberies and watched from there.

Being May, of course the Gardens were in full flower, so Swinley spent days learning all about the various flowers in anticipation of having to show the Monarch around. The King, however, had other ideas, having been a regular visitor to Exbury prior to the War. “No” he told Swinley politely, he knew his own way round and would relish a few moments of tranquillity before having to review his fleet.

Down at the Gilbury jetty there was much excitement amongst the boats crews, one crew, expecting to be inspected, found that their feet had been glued to the decks by sticky tar. Luckily the King had spent longer than the 15 minutes allotted him in the Gardens and they were saved the embarrassment of not being able to come smartly to attention.

He boarded the C.I.C. Portsmouth’s barge, known as ‘The Green Parrot’ and slowly and quietly went down the Beaulieu River. All the C.O.’s saluted in turn. It was a very quiet and sombre occasion.

In the Solent he transferred to a high speed Motor Launch and with his party of Admirals sped off. The return to the barge presented the King with a moment of humour. Their craft approached at high speed, creating quite a wave. The poor WREN on the bow of the barge had enormous difficulty in maintaining her dignity and not falling into the sea. The King and the Admirals watched this balancing act with much mirth, commenting to the effect that WRENs look better in skirts.

Account supplied by Nicholas de Rothschild of Exbury Estate – 17 September 2012

There is a short section of archive footage filmed at Wilton House, Wiltshire on the 25 May 1944 held by criticalpast.com.  It shows Allied officers attending a conference in Wilton House shortly before D-Day landings during World War II. Group of U.S. and British officers attend a conference at Southern Command (Wilton House). Includes British General Miller at his desk.

See the footage (No sound) here.

(Please note that this is a third part site and we are not respectable for it content.)

You can find out more about the other D Day holding camps, and related activities dealing with Mulberry Harbours and Embarkation by visiting our main page on D-Day in the New Forest.

 

Air Raid Damage to Bunkers Hill Anti-Aircraft Site. Official Report

This is a detailed transcription of National Archives papers from Ministry of Home Security: Research and Experiments Department, Registered Papers. AIR RAID DAMAGE. Region no.6: Southern Headquarters: Reading. Beaulieu. HO192/852

Brief Number. 1517 File Number: RE/B 16/45/2 Region VI
Southampton 14/15.5.44
Gun Site Beaulieu

It is reported that two High Explosive Bombs fell on a Gun Site causing 3 fatal casualties and 13 injured. Further information is required covering this incident with particular attention to the following points

1.    A plot to a large scale showing: a) position of the guns, firing equipment, and ready ammunition stocks b) Position of the bombs C) Positions of all personnel exposed to risk at the time of the incident, indicating those killed, seriously injured, slightly injured and uninjured.
2.    Full details of the damage to the guns, firing equipment and ammunition
3.    Brief description of any damaged buildings, etc.
4.    Photographs, as may be possible and helpful to the description
5.    The securing of fragments of the bomb is of importance and any collected should be forwarded to Prince Bisborough (R.E.9)

Report
Incident: H.E Bombs
Date and Time: 14/15.5.44 02:19 hours
Place: Beaulieu

Damage: No damage was caused to any of the guns or ammunition. The only equipment damaged was 2 panels blown out at rear of ‘RX’ detector, and aerials damaged. This is situated 114 feet North of No.1 bomb. Damage to buildings was very slight, caused chiefly by blast and falling clay.
1.    Nissen Hut, 19’x17’. Used as cookhouse; 2 corrugated sheets dented by debris and 3 panes of glazing cracked
2.    Nissen Hut, 24’x31’. Men’s Mess; 4 corrugated sheets slightly moved by blast, 6 planes of glazing cracked
3.    Nissen Hut, 19×17’. Seargeant’s Mess; 4 corrugated sheets slightly moved by blast. All situated on West side of site
4.    18 Angle Tents. 14’x14’ of a row of 27 tents situated on South side of site were damaged by falling clay. In these tents the casualties occurred.

Casualties: 2 service personnel killed outright, 1 service personnel died 10 minutes after, 1 service personnel died 24 hours after, 6 service personnel seriously injured, 4 service personnel slightly injured. Injuries were chiefly fractured skulls and broken limbs, caused by falling lumps of clay. A thorough examination was made and revealed no further injuries. Approximately 30 men were occupying the tents at the time of incident; they were off duty, and were either lying down or getting up at the time of the incident.

1 killed and 1 injured occupying No.3 Tent, 1 injured occupying No.4 Tent, 1 injured occupying No.5 Tent, 1 injured occupying No.8 Tent, 1 killed and 1 injured occupying No.9 Tent, 1 died 10 mins after and 1 injured occupying No.11 Tent. 5 injured occupying No.16 Tent including 1 since died in hospital.
Several men outside tents were uninjured. Major Brett and Lieut. Fawcett were standing approximately 436 feet North of No.1 Bomb and were blown over by the blast, but uninjured. No.1 Tent situated 75’ South of No.2 Bomb, occupied by cooks, was undamaged, and no occupants injured. Photographs were taken of site and positions from which they were taken are shown on plan.

General: The site is operated by the 355th Battery 111th H.A.A Regiment, composed of eight 3.7 A.A guns and all usual equipment; each gun carries 200 rounds of ammunition which is stored in gun pit. Gun pits are dug in with a breastwork of sand-bags and earth; surroundings are well camouflaged. The tents are well camouflaged and erected along hedgerow. Nissen huts are in a small coppice. The site is under the command of Major Brett.

Extracts from log as follows: Enemy engaged at 02:18 hours, Bombs dropped at 02:19 hours, Guns ceased fire at 02:21 hours

The log then goes on then to look at assessing the bomb fragments and various reports to confirm that they were 500Kg bombs. It also contains maps and photos which can be seen above.

The 1946 RAF aerial image shows the site post war. It is possible to see the field which held the guns adjoining the lighter field to the top left of the photo. Both bomb craters are also still visible in the photo as large scars, as well as the various tracks and areas where the tents would have stood. The aerial view gives a better idea of scale on the craters and shows how lucky most of the men stationed at this site were.

HO192 Records in the National Archives cover the following:

Ministry of Home Security: Research and Experiments Department, Registered Papers

These papers deal with observation of and research into allied and enemy bombs, bombing methods and effects, fire prevention and air raid damage both in the United Kingdom and in enemy occupied territories. The papers were registered in RE, RE/B, RE/F, RE/H, RE/O and RE/U series and comprise correspondence and related papers, technical reports and assessments, and surveys of air raid damage to towns and to various categories of domestic buildings, industrial and transport undertakings, and shelters, together with related maps, plans and photographs. The series also contains minutes and papers of the War Damage (Earth Movements) Main Committee and the Air Ministry Incendiary Panel.

 

Airfield accommodation at Stockley Inclosure

Beaulieu Airfield was opened on Saturday 8 August 1942 and was used by both the Royal Air Force and then later United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used as a bomber and fighter airfield. After the war, it was used for experimental work before it was closed in 1959.

Alongside the three main intersecting concrete runways, concrete dispersals, hangers and the perimeter road the station was constructed largely of Nissen huts of various sizes. These housed all the technical and organisational facilities as well as domestic requirements such as mess facilities; a chapel; a hospital; a mission briefing and debriefing; armouries and bomb stores; life support; supply hut; station and airfield security; motor transport, a post office and the other ground support functions necessary to support the men and women essential for the successful running of air operations.
A number domestic accommodation sites were dispersed away from the airfield, within a mile or so of the airfield providing accommodation for around 2,197 servicemen, including communal ablution facilities and sick quarters. Some of the concrete bases of these accommodation nissen huts are still visible in the woodlands around Beaulieu such as Stockley and Perrywood Inclosure.
For further reading and articles on Beaulieu Airfield please visit: Beaulieu Airfield Overview

American Airmen enjoy a day trip to the New Forest

This series of photos from the Imperial War Museum start with the residents deciding to go for a picnic in the New Forest. It is decided half the group will cycle and half the group will travel by jeep, and they will swap over for the return journey. The cyclists check the route on a map in the sunshine before they set off from the grounds of the large country house. Left to right, they are: Captain R W Smith (from Pomona, California), Lieutenant J D Baird (from Suring, Wisconsin), Miss Kathleen Deane (from Connecticut and one of the American Red Cross hostesses working at the club) and Lieutenant E T Broadnax (from Bastrup, Louisiana).

During their picnic in the New Forest the airmen play numerous pranks on each other. In the first one Lieutenant ‘Judy’ Judas falls victim to a practical joke. Having been challenged to drop a penny from his forehead into his trousers, he is caught unawares by Lieutenant Royal Firmin, Jr., who instead pours a bottle of beer into his trousers. Lieutenant Firmin runs the estate at Stanbridge Earls, as assistant to Captain B B Morse. It is his main job to keep the guests happy.

American airman Lieutenant Broadnax then plays a practical joke on his sleeping colleague Lieutenant Michael Zincowich (a Fortress Bombardier from New Hampshire) known as the ‘Hot Foot’ treatment: a lighted match is inserted between the sole and upper of his boot. He then wakes with a start much to the amusement of his colleagues.

The group finish their picnic with a relaxing pint of beer in the sunshine outside the Sir John Barleycorn pub in Cadnam. In the centre, in a white t-shirt, is Lieutenant Royal Firmin, Jr. Also seated outside the pub are two of the American Red Cross hostesses who work at the home, and have joined the men on their picnic. A greyhound dog can just be seen in the background.

Background

The original MoI ‘background story’ caption for this sequence of photographs reads: American pilots, co-pilots, navigators and bombardiers exhausted by long, relentless flights into enemy defences, are sent to “rest” at this English Shangri-La. Lush and mellow, centuries old yet up to the minute in comfort and fittings, the house and grounds have been lend-leased to the US Eighth Army Air Force by Britain’s Air Ministry. The home aims to prevent nervous breakdowns by easing the nervous tension before it becomes unbearable. At first sign of jitters bomber crews are ordered to “rest”, maybe four days, maybe two weeks. “Doc” Kennedy, Louisianan Flight Surgeon in residence, keeps an eye on heroes of Liberator and Fortress down for a few days’ lounging, trout-fishing, picnicking, cycling, tennis and eggs-for-breakfast with friendly American Red Cross hostesses and English staff including Mr Bunting, the butler. Mr Walter Hutchinson, British publisher whose home this was until the government requisitioned it, gladly lives in a couple of caravans in the grounds while lend-lease works in reverse to keep US airmen flying and fighting fit. This large country house is Stanbridge Earls, near Romsey in Hampshire

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

(Licence)