Saturday, 17 January 2015

Wartime adventures at Manor Farm

 Commandeered by the Government, pilfered by black marketeers,
raided by military police who were
outwitted by the P.O.W.s
- there was lots going on at
Manor Farm during the war! 

Eton College acquired Manor Farm Eton Wick during 1940 and offered the tenancy to Mr James Kinross Snr., who having been a long standing tenant farmer of the College but with no farmhouse, took possession of the farm.

Until then his farm base had been a double Dutch Red barn on the Slough - Eton road. This barn was also known as the 'Tramps Hotel' having the stabling for all the farm motive power, which at that time was twelve horses. The enclosed part of the barn was commandeered by a Government Department for the storage of supplies which at various times included such items as onions and confectionery, which was not a good idea given the rodent population. Military stores consisted of such things as Air Force blue shirts and foot powder (a medicated talc for feet, soldiers for the use of !!).

Clothes rationing made the shirts a desirable item on the Black Market and a temptation to thieves. One night, shortly after the end of the war in Europe, using a lorry, thieves smashed through the barn doors and made off with a quantity of shirts. The shirts, all one size, bore the size mark 22. German P.O.W,s arriving for work the following morning at Manor Farm espied the shirts lying around and proceeded to kit themselves out.

Although Manor Farm must be over a mile from one end to the other, the news that Police, CID, and Military SIB had arrived at the scene of the crime spread like a forest fire. The P.O.W's aware of the consequences if caught in possession of stolen property, immediately set about disposing of their loot putting shirts down the toilet, into buckets and in any other suitable place. 

One German prisoner working out in the field had no alternative, but to bury his shirt and carry on working stripped to the waist on a very chilly day. When questioned by the investigating officers, every one swore that Willie never wore a shirt or coat when working. Was he a tough Willie or a wily Willie who fooled the Military SIB?

The fate of the Dutch barn was sealed in 1958 when it was sold to the Slough scrap merchant W.N.Thomas, demolition being in the capable hands of Andy Skeels of the Wick.

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