According to the war diary account by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Headquarters – Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, they moved to this location on the 14th April 1944, on a “cloudy and cool” day.
14th April 1944
Cloudy and cool. This HQ moved to Bivouac Camp at mr 670298 sheet 131 – Bratley Arch
WO 179/2777 – 3rd Cdn Inf Div, HQ RCASC – WO 179-2777 (14)
As we continue to work though the thousands of diary pages and documents we will add the details to the portal.
With the start of the First World War in 1914, thousands of British troops were recalled from across the Empire. The 7th Division formed in early to mid-September at a camp on the outskirts of Lyndhurst (each of the nine battalions arrived on different days through the start of the month).
According to a War Diary records the newly arriving troopers were restricted in where they were allowed to go:
7th Division Routine Order No. 4, 9th Sept 1914. WO 95/1635. 2. All Public Houses in the neighbourhood of LYNDHURST are placed out of bounds to the troopers of the 7th Division.
With the ever resourceful trooper adapting and overcoming a new routine order was issued two day later!
7th Division Routine Order No. 5, 11th Sept 1914. WO 95/1635. 1. SOUTHAMPTON is placed out of bounds to all troops of the Division.
On 4th October 1914 the 7 Division began their move to Southampton docks.
Local lore says that the column of marching men stretched all the way to the docks (ie. The lead of the column was at the docks before the last units had left Lyndhurst). However War Diary records show that at least some of them used the train, LYNDHURST Road STN, but some may have still marched.
2nd Bedfordshire Regiment. October (1914. 4 to 31 Oct 1914). WO 95/1658
4 Oct 1914
3 p.m. LYNDHURST. Verbal order from Staff Captain that 1st Train load to be ready to move 4.30 p.m.
“The children of Lyndhurst , Minstead, Emery Down and Bartley between them sent 17 cwt. 23 lbs. of horse chestnuts for munition making. Sir Louis Dane allowed his stables to be used to spread them out for drying, to prevent them heating. Acorns had also been collected in response to an appeal from the Admiralty but this was less successful as only Lyndhurst and Emery Down had responded to the appeal. They collected and sent 26 bushels and Sir Louis Dane again lent his stables for spreading, turning and drying the acorns.” NFM January 1918 – Lyndhurst.
During WWI vast quantities of explosives were needed and cordite was produced in factories across the UK to meet these demands. Cordite is a family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom since 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant. It is made from nitrocellulose, nitroglycerine, and petroleum jelly.
Acetone (an organic solvent) was used in large amounts in the manufacture of cordite by assisting in the incorporation of nitroglycerine with guncotton and the other minor additives.
Chaim Weizmann of Manchester University discovered how to produce acetone, an essential ingredient, from various natural sources including maize from the U.S.A. But by 1917 German U-Boats were taking a heavy toll of shipping and a ‘home’ alternative had to be found.
In 1917 the government sent notices to schools announcing that “receiving depots are being opened in most districts….This collection is invaluable war work and is very urgent.”
The search was successful and a source was found in horse-chestnuts and acorns, which gave school children all over the Country an opportunity to make a contribution to the war effort, by collecting many tons from the countryside.
The chestnuts and acorns were sent secretly to factories at Holton Heath and King’s Lynn. The Dorset factory produced cordite for the Royal Navy, which was transported by barge from Poole Harbour to Priddy’s Hard in Gosport.
Between Hordle and Barton beaches the remains of WWII Admiralty Scaffolding has been exposed as a result of coastal erosion. Admiralty Scaffolding was a defensive structure built of tubular steel.
During the invasion crisis of 1940-1941 many coastal defenses were constructed on the beaches of southern England, eastern England and the south western peninsula. Admiralty Scaffolding along with other metal and concrete structures were designed to prevent and hinder any beach landing. More than 15,000 miles of tubular steel was manufactured to protect Britain’s beaches
By far the most common steel structure was designated obstacle Z.1. Admiralty scaffolding (Obstacle Z.1) or sometimes simply ‘beach scaffolding’ or ‘anti-tank scaffolding’ comprised upright tubes 9 feet (2.7 m) high and 4 feet 10 inches (1.5 m) apart, these were connected by up to four horizontal tubes. Each upright was braced by a pair of diagonal tubes, at about 45°, to the rear. 20-foot (6 m) wide sections were preassembled and then carried in to the sea and placed in position at the half tide mark as an obstacle to invading troops.
This scaffolding was placed in the sea along the New Forest’s coast by the Wiltshire Regiment at the height of the war in 1940-41. Unfortunately, within two tides of being installed it had sunk into the sea bed by 16 inches.
After the war, early 1949, work to dismantle the defenses began. However, by this time they had sunk by several feet. Over the decades much of the remaining structure disappeared below the sea bed, but constant coastal erosion causes new sections to reappear each year.
“On Hordle Beach the remains consist of jagged scaffold-like structures sticking up from parts of the sea floor.”
Warning buoys have now been installed over the exposed metalwork; however more remains are being uncovered by the sea at a rapid rate.
Subject to a complete survey being conducted permission has now been granted to remove the rusted remains of this war time defense which over the years has been a hazard to beach users and swimmers.
This article was first published in the ‘RAF The Official Magazine’ Issue 10, 2006.
THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN…
Living today in the beautiful New Forest area, it is difficult to imagine how important this part of the country was towards the end and immediately after WWII. Many of the covert activities among the forest and heaths remained on the Official Secrets List until as recently as 1976. Dawn D’Arcy recently met one of the many who were involved in these secret and often quite unbelievably bizarre goings-on. Ted Robson
delights in recounting his exploits during the time he was in the RAF, and it is difficult to believe that he is recalling happenings of nigh on 60 years ago!
In WWII, Sergeant Edward Robson was a Parachute Jumping Instructor in the RAF stationed at Upper Heyford, in Oxfordshire. First he had to qualify as a Physical Training Instructor, so that he was competent at gymnastics, then he was taught by qualified parachute instructors. Ted’s task was to train troops in the Army Parachute Regiment. Many of them were Norwegians, and when I asked if there was any difficulty with the language, Ted laughed, “They all spoke excellent English and were often easier to understand than many of our own troops with regional burrs”. Obviously, even with the pressures of wartime, it would be suicidal for them to parachute out of an aircraft before they had learnt basic skills, so in the beginning they jumped from a platform about 30ft from the ground, They were fitted with a normal parachute harness, but no parachute. On the platform was a small fan with a rope attached to the trainees’ harness. By pulling on the rope as they jumped, it had been calculated that the resistance of the fan against the air would act as a brake, slowing their descent to the normal speed expected when jumping from an aircraft. Finding the system actually worked, they overcame their initial trepidation and leapt into space as far away from the platform as they could, enjoying the experience. Ted always flew and jumped with his trainees when they graduated to parachuting out of the aircraft, so he has absolutely no idea of how many jumps he made, but it must run into the hundreds, if not the thousands.
In 1946, AFEE (Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment) asked for six experienced jumping instructors to volunteer to work for them. Experimental establishments had a dubious reputation in those days and it needed some sort of incentive to persuade anyone to volunteer. “Where is AFEE?” came the question. “Oh, it’s at Beau Lieu,” they were told, “I think it’s a French Airfield just a few miles from Monte Carlo.” That put a whole new complexion on the posting and the whole team volunteered! The next day they received the route form for their transit to Beau Lieu – ‘Didcot, Reading, Basingstoke, Southampton’. Six somewhat wiser lads eventually arrived at Beaulieu – in the New Forest! Beaulieu airfield was opened in 1942 and used by RAF Coastal Command until taken over by the American Army Air Force in 1944. It was handed back to the British in 1946 and became the AFEE.
Ted takes up the story…
“The work we were principally engaged in was to determine the maximum amount of equipment a paratrooper could jump with. I found it amazing that no one had actually thought of doing this before, especially when you consider that there had been airborne invasions in such places as North Africa, Sicily, Italy and of course Holland, Belgium and France. Anyway, after the war the Ministry of Supply or the Air Ministry, I’m not sure which, decided it was time to find just what troops could actually be expected to carry when parachuting out of an aircraft. Better late than never I suppose. We were under the command of an Army Major who, together with a team of highly qualified civilian boffins worked out how they wanted the tests performed. They planned a series of trials, told us what was required, and all we had to do was prepare as best we could and work out how to do the actual jumps. The six of us were joined by two more PJIs. They were a great bunch and we had a lot of fun, but by golly – the things they asked us to do became unbelievably difficult.
The first series of jumps required us to be in full Army regalia of rubber crash helmet, full Army webbing, bandoliers of ammunition slung round our necks, two grenade pouches, complete with grenades, jumping jacket and boots. In addition, we had a 401b kitbag strapped to one leg. The weight of the equipment meant we were unable to walk properly so we had to shuffle down the aircraft, as best, we could. Thus burdened we did a series of jumps at varying wind speeds, starting in very light winds and working upwards. Normally paratroopers are not allowed to jump in wind speeds exceeding 15mph because of the crosswind dangers on landing. We were told to go up to a somewhat questionable 30mph if necessary. The aircraft, we were jumping from were the famous C-47 Dakotas.
We always held the same position in the ‘stick’ as we called the sequence in which we jumped out. I was always first into the aircraft, which meant, of course, I was always last out. A second aircraft shadowed us on each flight, taking photographs to record every jump we made. It all went splendidly and we had brilliant weather. The second series of tests required us to jump both with and without reserve parachutes, with leg or chest kitbags and often with heavy loads such as the Vickers machine-gun. We also jumped with two and three-inch mortars. We did not land with the kitbags strapped to our bodies, as there was a quick release system that was activated by pulling a toggle on the webbing on our chests. When the toggle was pulled it released the kitbags so that they dropped away, secured by a 20 foot-length of rope. This meant the kitbags dangled 20 feet below us, tending to oscillate of course, and they hit the ground first. In a sense it was a plus, because, when they hit the ground it took the weight off the chute and caused it to billow which had a slight braking effect. The landing area, however, was littered with gorse bushes – very painful to land on!
ON YOUR BIKE
“On the next series of jumps they upped the weight of the kitbags to 60lbs, and having survived thus far, it was decided, in addition to everything else, we should attempt to carry a stretcher under one arm. The stretcher was made of thick hessian attached to two poles, so it was not too heavy, but it was extremely cumbersome and made it very awkward getting in and out of the exit door of the aircraft. On what I believe was the final series of tests, we were asked to jump with all the personal equipment I have mentioned, plus a pushbike. This was else, we should attempt to carry a stretcher under one arm. The stretcher was made of thick hessian attached to two poles, so it was not too heavy, but it was extremely cumbersome and made it very awkward getting in and out of the exit door of the aircraft. On what I believe was the final series of tests, we were asked to jump with all the personal equipment I have mentioned, plus a pushbike. This was designed to fold up and the idea was that it would enable paratroopers to get away from the landing area more quickly than if they had to walk. We found these quite useful for riding back to the camp, providing the gorse hadn’t punctured the tires! We were so laden that movement inside the aircraft was severely restricted; it became impossible to make a proper exit and jump out of the aircraft door. We had to shuffle along the stick and topple out as best we could. It took really strong men to carry these loads. By being so slow to leave the aircraft we were caught by the slipstream and that tended to twist the parachute rigging in an upward direction. The danger then was that if the rigging became twisted it could enclose the canopy and prevent it from staying open. Then the descent would become very fast indeed! The technique to avoid this is to kick hard in the opposite direction to the twist, thereby undoing the rigging as it twists. Remember, we had done a lot of jumps so we were quite expert in knowing how to get ourselves out of trouble.
As I mentioned, I was always first in and last out of the aircraft, and there was now a considerable delay between the first and last man leaving. On one particular day, because of the direction and speed of the wind, I knew I was well past the dropping zone when it was finally my turn to exit the aircraft. As I toppled out I could see Hatchet Pond coming toward me. Being so weighed down, struggle and twist as I might, I could not avoid the inevitable and the next thing I knew I was at the bottom of the pond. It was at the end of October or early November when I had my ducking so it was not exactly a welcome dip. Thankfully I had not landed in the middle of the pond and eventually managed to haul myself out, completely sodden and not in the best of spirits. Shortly after this incident I was demobbed, it was the 11 November 1947 – Armistice Day.”
Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Alan Brown (the member of the PJI crew who took the photograph) for his input into this article. Alan is the author of some beautifully written and fascinating books illustrating the work of Service personnel in First To Go and Twelve Airfields.
RAF C-47 Dakota – workhorse of the RAF jump schools. (Dr Alfred Price)
Seven of the eight RAF Parachute Jumping Instructor team members, including (back row from left): Sgts Pelt, Watson, Hutchingson, Robson and Hodgekinson, and (front row from left) Davies and Barnes. They are posing before a C-47 in June
1947. The eighth member was the photographer, Sgt Brown.
Paratrooper wearing the leg kitbag for a heavy mortar, one ol the many out-sized items carried by airborne units.
A Second World War ‘Q-type’ bombing decoy located at Moors Valley Country Park, Verwood (SU 100 066). It was built to deflect enemy bombing from Royal Air Force Hurn airfield and later used for Royal Air Force Ibsley airfield. This ‘Q-type’ night decoy site displayed a series of lights to simulate an active airfield. It is referenced as being in use between 18-JUN-1942 and 12-AUG-1942.
Aerial photography from 1981 shows an uncovered control building standing on the site in reasonable condition, with its south-east entrance fronted by a blast wall. A further bombing decoy for Royal Air Force Hurn was located at Ridley Plain and a second decoy for Royal Air Force Ibsley was located at Woodgreen.
Monument Number: 1466158
To see some more images of the site visit geography.
This memorial is on a low bank overlooking the house, farm and cottages which make up the hamlet of Allum Green, all previously part of a small estate. It commemorates an air raid during the night of 5th September 1940, when one of several high explosive bombs dropped around the hamlet fell on Allum Green House, passing through the officers’ sleeping quarters in the upper storey and exploding in the Sergeants’ Mess in the cellar. Four men were killed and between 14 and 17 wounded were taken to Lymington Hospital.
The bench is here due to the determined efforts of Sergeant Arthur William James Haynes that his four lost comrades should not be forgotten. He found that the incident was virtually unknown to the inhabitants of Lyndhurst and the Army authorities. After bringing it to their attention, Arthur obtained permission from the Forestry Commission for a memorial to be sited here, with the approval of the local British Legion, the Worcestershire Regiments’ Association and the Dunkirk Veterans’ Association. The bench was purchased with donations from former No. 8 AFW comrades, and was dedicated on 17th May 1980 in the presence of survivors and family members, Army officers and the local British Legion. Since the disbandment of the British Legion branch, it has been cared for by the residents of Allum Green at their own expense, and they have given generously of time and hospitality to the bench’s visitors.
The No. 8 Army Field Workshop, RAOC, comprised of units from Kidderminster, Dudley, Stourbridge and Worcester as part of the Territorial Army, with HQ in Kidderminster. It was formed in 1939 in response to a need for skilled technical personnel, and was mobilised into the regular army on 2nd September, with limited military training and equipment. In order to balance the trades needed in each Section and at HQ, various personnel were transferred and specialists on Army equipment were drafted in from other areas. This probably accounts for the inclusion of Staff Sergeant Gifford from Wiltshire and Staff Sergeant Avon from London, neither of whom had previous connections to Worcestershire or the Territorials.
There followed a period of training and, on 26th January 1940, the whole of No. 8 AFW left Southampton aboard ss Antwerp for Cherbourg, as part of the British Expeditionary Force. They moved by train to Oisseau-le-Petit, between Alencon and Le Mans, there continuing training and reorganising personnel. Between 3rd and 5th March they moved to Namps-au-Val, near Amiens, to establish workshops and take in recovery and repair work.
On 18th March No. 2 Section was despatched to Beaumetz and No. 3 to Courcelette, and on 13th May they both joined No. 1 Section which had already moved to Roubaix, east of Lille, where 2 Corps had its HQ. Both Sections were working on vehicles brought in from other formations. After a short foray into Belgium, the whole Unit was ordered back to Neuve Chapelle on 20th May, due to the German advance. Orders were received on 23rd May to proceed to Dunkirk, via Bissezeele and Bergues, where a few men were left on tank repair duty. Billets were found in the Dunkirk suburb of Rosendael, but many men were accommodated in freshly dug trenches. A small party was evacuated to England on 26th May. There were constant air raids, and in the confusion some of the men became separated from their comrades and had to find their own way back to England as best they could. The ship originally planned for the Unit’s evacuation from Dunkirk, the ss Worthtown, was bombed in Dunkirk harbour and partially sunk; it is not known which vessel eventually transported them home to Dover.
On arrival, the majority of the three Sections were sent to the Aldershot area, given 48 hours’ leave and then spent about six weeks billeted at various locations around Burley, including Woods Green and Burley Village Hall. Reassembled into their correct groups, they were then despatched to Testwood School, Totton for a short time; No. 2 Section was eventually sent to Allum Green House and used the Imperial Garage in Lyndhurst (now Meridien Modena, a Ferrari dealer) as a workshop. No. 1 Section moved to Petersfield and No. 3 Section to Bishops Waltham. After the air raid on 5th September, the survivors returned briefly to Totton; soon afterwards the Army reorganised their resources so that recovery and repair sections were reallocated to Divisions rather than Corps. As No. 8 AFW no longer existed, its former members came under the authority of the 4th Infantry Division, later seeing action in North Africa and Italy.
STANLEY HENRY AVON
Staff Sergeant 7607811
No. 2 Recovery Section, No. 8 Army Field Workshop, RAOC
died on 5th September 1940, aged 31
Stanley Henry Avon was born on 5th March 1909 to Henry and Nellie Avon (nee Chitty) of East Greenwich, south-east London, the third child of five, three of whom died in infancy, and was survived by his sister Doris.
When Henry died in 1921, the family faced very hard times; to make ends meet Nellie repaired neighbours’ boots and Stan (aged 12) used a small knitting machine to make socks for sale. In 1924 Stan was apprenticed as a fitter at Deptford East Generating Station, then worked at the Charlton engineering firm of Graftons Ltd, later moving to Custance & Thompson of Lee Green. His best friend there was Sydney Smith, son of the owner, and later the two of them married the Derham twins.
He had always wanted to be a doctor but it wasn’t possible with the family circumstances as they were, so he joined the St John Ambulance Brigade in 1928 and remained an ambulance officer until his death. When he enlisted for 12 years in the Regular Army on 11 September 1939, he hoped this experience would fit him for the Medical Corps, but the Army wanted a mechanical man rather than a medical man so he was assigned to the RAOC.
Stan married Margaret Isobel Derham (Mollie) on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1938 at St George’s Church, Westcombe Hill, setting up home in Bennett Park, Blackheath. Their only child, Jill, was born in July 1940, seven weeks after Stan’s return from Dunkirk and seven weeks before his death. With family, friends and Army comrades and officers present, he was buried on 9th September in grave no. 395 Q Section at Charlton, his family cemetery, where his mother joined him in 1963.
It was not until 2008 that Jill discovered the exact location of her father’s death, which her mother had never known, and was very moved and grateful to find a memorial to her father and his comrades. Since then she has visited the memorial a few times, notably in 2010 on the 70th anniversary of the air raid in the company of Alan Haynes, son of Sgt Arthur Haynes, the driving force behind the installation of the bench, and Wilf Briggs of No. 3 Recovery Section who knew SQMS Tyler from their time together in No. 3 Section before the latter transferred to No. 2 Section.
HARRY STANLEY TYLER
WOII (SQMS) 7602112
No. 2 Recovery Section, No. 8 Army Field Workshop, RAOC
died on 5th September 1940, aged 42
Harry Stanley Tyler was born in Martley, Worcester, in the summer of 1898, the only son of Harry and Annie Tyler (nee Hebden); he had two sisters, Mary and Nellie. His father was the landlord of the Whitehall Inn, Martley, but later became motor mail contractor at the Royal Mail Garage, Worcester.
Stan served in the Transport Corps in the First World War, and afterwards worked at the garage, which he took over when his father died in 1938.
In 1920 he married Florence Maud Staples in Leominster and they had three sons, Harry, Gordon, and Bryan. They later lived at Tolladine, Worcester.
Stan had joined the Civil Air Guard in 1939 and was then called up into the RAOC, where he became a valuable asset due, not only to his mechanical abilities, but also his skill as a marksman, learned during his time at Worcester Rifle Club.
He was buried in grave no. 4927 in Worcester (Astwood) Cemetery in the presence of family, friends, Army officers and comrades and representatives of Worcester Rifle Club.
ALFRED WILLIAM BLUNN
No. 2 Recovery Section, No. 8 Army Field Workshop, RAOC
died on 5th September 1940, aged 28
Alfred William Blunn was born in Rednal, Bromsgrove, in the summer of 1912. His parents were Harold Nathan and Madeline Blunn (nee Wilkes); he had two brothers, Arthur and Harold, and two sisters, Madeline and Kathleen Lucy.
He attended Alcester Grammar School and Bromsgrove County High School, and until the war he worked in the service department of Austin Motor Works at Longbridge. In January 1940 he married Margaret Florence Barlow of Selly Oak at Lickey Church.
Alf was a keen sportsman, playing for a number of local football teams and was a valued all-rounder at Barnt Green Cricket Club. Indeed, when he was interred in the family grave (no. 702) in Lickey (Holy Trinity) Churchyard Extension, his cricket bat was buried with him. The war memorial in the churchyard also includes his name.
EDGAR WILLIAM ERNEST GIFFORD
Staff Sergeant 7607804
No. 2 Recovery Section, No. 8 Army Field Workshop, RAOC
died between 5th and 6th September, 1940, aged 30
Edgar William Ernest Gifford was born in Frome, Somerset, in 1910 where his father John Ernest Gifford was a miller and corn merchant. His mother was Bertha Marion, nee Cole, and he had a brother Philip Ronald and three sisters, Edna Marion, Luena Isabel and Bertha Muriel.
“Giff” attended Frome School and in 1936 he married Kathleen Nash in Trowbridge; they had moved to nearby North Bradley a few months before his death with their two-year-old son John.
Family, friends and army representatives attended the funeral, with an escort from Trowbridge Barracks led by Staff Sergeant Relf, a friend from No. 2 Section, when he was buried in the north west corner of St. Nicholas’ Church, North Bradley.
New Memorial Bench 2023
In 2023 the residents of Allum Green paid to have a new bench erected at the same site.
In this area you will find a range of concrete plinths and platforms many of which have metal ‘bolts’ or pits imbedded. This is the site of, what is thought to be a post WWII, sawmill. The sawmill machinery was once attached to the platforms to secure them in place.
Unknown dates for the setting up and removal of this sawmill.
This huge vertical steel face target (6m high and 12m long) represented the hull side of a merchant ship and was constructed in a similar way. It was used for training and to test the penetration of air to ground ordnance including 20 and 40mm cannon rounds, 6pdr rounds fired from the Molins Gun (or Tsetse) fitted to converted DH Mosquitoes (designed to be used against U-Boats) and rockets launched from a variety of aircraft including Hawker Hurricanes.