Chitterne at War Again - World War II

Chitterne Home Guard

The Chitterne contingent of the Land Defence Volunteers or LDV were renamed the Home Guard in 1943/44. This photograph was taken outside the front of Manor Farm at Chitterne All Saints. The chief officer of the guard was Mr Limbrick, seated centre, who lived and farmed at Manor Farm. In the front row are the infamous Chitterne cadets, of whom more below.

Back row
'Starchy' Burton, Geoff Helps, John Paterson, Bert Bailey, Bert Diaper, Leslie Sheppard, George Gagen, Ernie Polden.

Second row
Les Mundy, Walt Herrington, Walt Ledbury, George Dowdell, John Lecoq (from Channel Islands), unknown, Don Wallis, Will Ashley, Alban Polden, Len Moore, Herbie Feltham, Bert Lush, Mr Fagg.

Third row
Fred Bowden, Rowland Pearce, Jack Beaumont, Douglas Piercy, Bert Diaper, Dickie Bailey, George Macey, 'Pat' Paterson, 'Chirpy' Grant, Willie Ashley, William Poolman, Fred Feltham, Stan Waite, Frank Helps, Lewis Feltham, Frank Ashley.

Fourth row
Len Searchfield, Harry Sheppard, Percy Churchill, Cecil Windsor, Lewis Daniels, Sgt Blatchford, unknown, Mr Limbrick, Tom Limbrick, 'Snobby' Snelgrove, Evelyn Feltham, Jack Poolman, unknown, Bill Bartlett.

Front row
Cecil Saxby, Laurence Wallis, John George, Tony Bailey, Gerald Feltham, George Feltham, Billy Windsor, John 'Chippy' Oakes, Gerald Polden, Bobby Gorry.

The Great Exercise Fiasco

It was decided that it would be a good idea for the newly formed guard to practise apprehending the enemy. So the Chitterne cadets were asked to take on the role of "germans" and go and hide around the village for the guard to find. The cadets performed their task extremely well as, during the whole exercise, not a single "german" was apprehended!

Later, the disgruntled Home Guard accused the cadets of cheating by hiding in trees! The crafty cadets had climbed up in the trees along the walk and inside some hollow ones!

[note: The 'walk' is the path along the bank of the brook behind the lime trees.]

Chitterne Still Under Curfew

As well as a Home Guard, Chitterne had at least two Air Raid Wardens, William Churchill and Thomas Gorry were appointed. At the first sign of an air raid it was their job to cycle from one end of the village to the other blowing a trumpet!

At the first air raid this was done perfectly, except that whoever was on duty forgot to sound the all-clear later! So, technically, Chitterne is still under curfew!

[note: David Bamford has kindly sent the pictures below of William Churchill's warrant card.]

Bombs Dropped Near Chitterne

The nearest the village got to being bombed was on a Saturday night when there was a village dance in the "hut". A german bomber dropped 21 bombs. The first one landed in the first big field on the left going towards Codford, the rest were dropped in an arc with the last one just missing the road to Warminster.

Farm Boys Machine-gunned

Some village lads were helping out in one of Robert Long's fields, gathering piles of straw with a horse and trailer, when a Heinkel 111 plane flew low with it's machine-guns firing at them. Luckily no one was hit. The pilot was clearly seen by other villagers from their window in the Round House and they felt sure he saw them too and would have fired at them save for his need to clear the tall chestnut tree in their garden. The plane was later shot down near New Zealand Farm at Gore Cross.

At the time the Poldens had just had a shiny new roof put on their field shed and this was blamed for attracting the pilot. One of the bullets went clean through a pigsty and a pig's trough, the head of the bullet lodging in the opposite side of the trough, letting all the water out!

Wiltshire Dialect Boosts Morale

During the war the BBC made recordings of various British dialects to be sent to the troops stationed abroad. William Poolman of Chitterne was chosen to represent the west country dialect. In the photo he is second from the right in the studio.

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