Second World War

1. Royal Army Ordnance (R.A.O.C.)

2. Sherwood Forest during WW11 

3. Edwinstowe air crash assistance request – 26th February 1944

4.  Prisoners of War 

5. Memories of D-Day

6. When Royalty stopped off at Edwinstowe – Princess Alice

1. Royal Army Ordnance Corps (R.A.O.C

The R.A.O.C. were responsibilities for weapons, ammunition, armoured vehicles, clothing and general stores such as laundry, mobile baths and photography.

During WW11, one of the largest ammunitions storage depots was in Sherwood Forest including Clumber Park and covered over 100 square miles. It was called CAD Warsop. During the war, the U.S. Army stored ammunitions there.

Clumber Park stored over 60,000 tons of ammunitions which were kept in stacks covered with corrugated iron. The Army Pioneer Corps and local POW moved the ammunitions through the forest on a rail track.

In 1941, Clumber was used for secret trials using a trench digging tank code-named MH956, a naval land machine called ‘White Rabbit’ and a cultivator called ‘Nellie’. The tank was 23.5m long, weighed 130 tons and could move 100 tons of earth in a minute. Winston Churchill, using the name ‘Colonel Warden’, visited Clumber in November of that year, to inspect ‘Nellie’ After the war, Sherwood Forest was used to stock pile unwanted ammunition, until they could be re-used or destroyed. The site was closed in 1954.

Here are some reports from the: 1948 The R.A.O.C. GAZETTE 255C.A.D. CAD Warsop

 With the advent of the warm weather, the bogey of Depot fires has reared its ugly head, and already we have had more than enough trouble from this source. However, it is almost worth it all to have some sunny days. We hope all our newcomers are enjoying Sherwood Forest in ideal ‘trippers’ weather.”

Our work continues, and we will soon commence to run down. We welcome our new I.O.O., Captain Franks, to help in the clearance of Sherwood Forest, and S/Cdr. Palling who is teaching our clerks and storemen a thing or two.”

The football team have won the championship of the Mansfield and District Wednesday League having completed their fixtures without losing a league match.” 

On the 13th of August, we had an exercise in Sherwood Forest which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. On the 14th there was a Gymkhana on the Sports Ground with a varied programme of mixed events. The whole weekend was a great success.”

“At our present rate of clearance, Sherwood Forest will soon be back to the condition it was in pre-war days. Already we are finding out how popular a pleasure resort it is.”

Today the arrival of Capt. R.V. Harley to inspect the depot.

Our best wishes to readers everywhere. MAJOR OAK II.”

Who was Capt. R.V. Harley? His job was to inspect that the forest was being cleared of ammunition and restored to a good condition. He was born on the 2nd August 1919 and died on the 19th August 2010, aged 91.

He was a very brave man who was awarded the George Medal in recognition of his gallant and distinguished services following an explosion.

His story is below.

Ronald Victor Harley (243086), was on duty at No. 3 Central Ammunition Sub-Depot, Hampstead supervising ammunition. He was in the sorting shed when a round of ammunition exploded and injured six soldiers, one of whom died later. The blast was so violent that it blew other shell to pieces, reduced many more to a very dangerous condition, started a fire, and blanketed the area with smoke.

Captain Harley immediately ordered all men out of the building, leaving it himself only when he could see no more men. He re-entered the building almost immediately to find some injured men running out. Without hesitation, he went right up to the scene of the explosion which was still enveloped in smoke, and saw flames. He ordered a soldier who was at his side (No. 14441727) Pte. McGarrigle, to fetch fire appliances, and himself went further into the smoke where he found a badly injured soldier staggering about. By this time another helper had arrived and Captain Harley, after seeing that the injured soldier was being evacuated, ran to the office next door to call the ambulance and fire brigade. Next, he saw that all the casualties were being attended to, and ordered the most serious cases to be taken to hospital straight away. Then he again went to the scene of the explosion to check that the fire was out and that there were no further casualties, and finally ordered a roll call to see that all his personnel had been accounted for.

Captain Harley showed bearing and leadership of the very highest order, and undoubtedly his exemplary behaviour affected the discipline of the men under his command in their efforts to extinguish the fire and help the casualties under very hazardous circumstances.

Later he became a Major. What we must remember is that this is not a made-up story but it is about a real person who lived here and helped to protect our village and country. In June 2016, his medals (in the picture above) were sold by a Pawn Broker for £3,200. How does this make you feel?

2. Sherwood Forest during WW11

The Warwickshire Yeomanry (soldiers) were stationed in the forest from the start of the war. They were a cavalry (horse) regiment so they commandeered (took over) all the stables in Edwinstowe, behind the Black Swan and the Jug and Glass and local farms.

The German Prisoners of War were brought here to work on the farms. There was also a large camp of prisoners at Carburton. It was just past Carburton crossroads on the way to Worksop past the lodge on the left-hand side and up a lane that goes to Fairwood.

All the Germans had been sailors (U-boat/submarine prisoners) They were let out at night“, they could not get away as there was nowhere to go. The lads in the village, who had been in the navy during the war, used to sit on the wall on the corner, opposite the Royal Oak-near the Forest Lodge. The Germans would come walking by and the village lads used to talk to them about where they had been and when had they been taken prisoner.

Joseph Bennett, who worked at Thoresby Colliery, used to write to one of the prisoner, Freddie, who had worked in a pit in Germany. Joseph, worked on the pit top and Freddie had worked underground. Joseph asked Freddie why he was in a U-boat He shared that, ‘When they tell you, you go. They were going to shoot you. You don’t stand and argue! I hated every minute.’

His U-Boat, U-608, was sunk in the Bay of Biscay. He was rescued by the crew of the HMS Wren. He was given a picture of the Wren to keep and he was, ‘over the moon’ to be alive.

                              U-Boat U-608                                                                               HMS Wren

Joseph Bennett 1923-2016

3. Edwinstowe air crash assistance request 26th Feb 1944

The crew pictured in Nottinghamshire, Bill Taylor is third from the right.

Via Jane Bealby

By Howard Heeley

The Newark Air Museum is assisting Jane Bealby from Edwinstowe with research on a wartime aircraft training crash near Edwinstowe, Mansfield, which happened on 26th February 1944.

The aircraft from 1661 HCU at nearby RAF Winthorpe (now home to the Newark Air Museum) was on a training flight.

Five airmen lost their lives in the crash and one survivor was taken to Mansfield General Hospital. We would like to appeal to anyone who might have been nursing at that time in Mansfield and who might remember an Australian airman being brought into the hospital.

As it was wartime, Jane is not sure which of the emergency services would have been called to the scene, but believe that the police, fire, ambulance service crews might have been informed. Other Civil Defence units might also have been involved such as the ARP and the Home Guard.

If anyone has any information regarding this crash could they please respond here, or via email to admin@newarkairmuseum.org

4. Prisoners of War (POW)

The Italian POW lived in huts at the other end of the cricket pitch (opposite the Craft Centre) The land used to be covered with elderberries, brambles and tree stumps but it was cleared and levelled so they could make a football pitch with goal posts.

After the war the Italians returned home and displaced people (migrants) from all over Europe came to the camp. There were Poles, Czechoslovaks, Latvians and Russians. Most of them worked down the pit with the local men. Others worked on farms growing food to help feed us. They knew they could not go home as they would be called collaborators (people who worked with the enemy) as they had been freed in Germany. They were known by many as very good workmen.

We are aware that the picture is unclear.

5. Memories of D-Day.

Philip Bond is one of the survivors of the D-day landing in Normandy. Nationwide tributes were paid to the heroic participants in this historic event on Sunday, 6th June, its sixtieth anniversary.

Phil was called up for army service in 1943, and after completing his primary training at Lincoln, he was attached to the Royal Engineers. He was posted to Gibraltar Barracks, Aldershot, and to other training centres before being sent to Boxhill, Surrey, now a well-known beauty spot, in preparation for a planned invasion of Northern France. It was at Boxhill that Phil joined the 629 (9th) Field Squadron, experienced Sappers who had served in the North Africa campaign. The squadron’s beach training was undertaken at Brancaster, Norfolk, where the terrain resembles the Normandy beaches. One part of their training was the blowing up of beach obstacles and another was the laying of firm tracks (made up of a combination of wire and hessian) to prevent wheeled vehicles from sinking in the sand. They were also trained in the use of mine-detectors and in the safe disposal of land-mines.

On 5th June, 1944, all units were geared up for the invasion of the French coast, only to be ordered to stand by for another twenty-four hours because of inclement weather. On 6th June hundreds of ships carrying the invading force left our southern shores, heaving and rolling in the aftermath of a severe storm. On board, reveille sounded at 4am, followed by a 4.30 breakfast. At 5 o’clock the Sappers climbed into the Landing Craft Assaults (LCA’s) which were then lowered into the water. It was bitterly cold and all but the most hardy were sick. The LCA’s reached the shore at 8 o’clock, to be met with a hail of hostile machine-gun fire. A group of survivors waded into the water and cleared beach obstacles of mines and live shells – a dangerous job, but successfully accomplished.

Phil was among the survivors who dug protective trenches near the beach at Hermanville, in the face of occasional air attacks. Heavy storms raged on subsequent days and torrential rain would make some of their tasks difficult to perform. The Sappers relied on the infantry to move ahead and make it safe for them to carry out their duties.

Within a month the strategic town of Caen had been captured and the Sappers were ordered to clear the roads through the town. In July, 1944, the Sappers began a trek right across Europe, traversing France, Belgium, Holland and Belgium again, before moving towards the Rhine. They worked on repairs to roads which had been damaged in the skirmishes between the opposing armies and they filled in bomb craters. They were responsible, too, for the maintenance of water supplies and for the repair or construction of Bailey bridges across rivers. They were deeply involved in the liberation of France, Holland and Belgium. Phil remembers with affection the camaraderie that existed among the men in his troop and the devastating feeling when some comrades were killed or wounded.

D. Wood

6. When Royalty stopped off at Edwinstowe – Princess Alice

People all over the world were saddened to her of the death of the well-loved Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, and this picture may bring back special memories for Edwinstowe residents who welcomed the Princes to Edwinstowe during WW11.

Taken in the early 1940s, the princess was visiting a canteen set up for both American and British soldiers who were stationed in Edwinstowe.

The Royal party was being welcomed by the late Ernest Reddish, a member of the Royal Observer Corps, who helped organise the canteen. Also pictured in the photograph is Her Grace, the late Duchess of Portland.

 

The picture has been loaned by Mr. Reddish’s daughter, Mrs. E. Little, of Langwith Junction.