Monday 18 September 2023

World War 2 Eighty Years On - September / October 1943.

The troop from 371 Bty. of 117 Regt. stationed at Dorney   Camp (SM7) was relieved by B troop from 564(M)HAA Battery. Formed and trained at Blandford, Dorset, 564 Bty. went to Bude for firing practice before moving into Emmbrook camp, Wokingham, near Reading as heavy rain had made Emmbrook very muddy, making the move to Windsor most welcomed.    

Enemy air activity was no longer of mass attack or Blitzkrieg on London, but small raids were still taking place which required the Battery at site SM7 Dorney Common and other sites in the district to be on the alert as Height taker and Plotter, Corporal Bratt remembers.

‘Many broken night's sleep were endured as often the alarm bells would go two or three times a night. Then it was a case of out of bed, into your boots, grab your greatcoat and steel helmet and "Run like Hell" as it was a distance from the A.T.S. huts to the Command Post. An Ack-Ack (anti-aircraft) site in the middle of a bad winter night was not a funny place to be.  

Whilst stationed at Dorney 564 Bty. bagged its first German Raider which crashed at High Wycombe. Corporal Bratt of C Section was on the height finder that night and witnessed the hit in the telescopic sights. On being stood down after the action, Major Haines Bty. Commander, ordered the NAAFI to be opened up and a celebration took place.  Excited with their success, an armed guard of an Officer and six gunners went to the crash and stood guard overnight. It was 564's victim and they wanted no one pinching their glory. Although life on Ack-Ack site was hard, especially during the winter months when Nissen huts could be cold and damp, being with a battery for a long period was like being with the family, more so when one had joined at seventeen and a half years.  When the guns went into action it was advisable for the village residents to take shelter.  On one occasion the aircraft trackers mis-aimed and shot off the chimney pots of buildings in Alma Road.   L/Sergeant Whitaker of ‘D Section’ also a Height/Range finder recalls that a propeller off the plane, which crashed in the High Wycombe area, was given to the Battery to mark their first victory. Major Haines, had it mounted with a suitably inscribed brass plaque’.  This was the action of February 22/23 1944 - see chapter 6.

Fire Watching

 In the fight to reduce the effect of firebomb attacks regulations were introduced calling on every man working less than sixty hours a week and every woman working less than forty-five hours to do forty-eight hours fire watching a month.

Their equipment comprised of sand buckets, sand scoop and stirrup pump. 

A distinctive grey Fire Watcher's tin hat was supplied. The estimated available number of firewatchers in 1943 was put at six million.

Note Fire Watchers were part of Air Raid Precautions. The ARP was renamed Civil Defence in 1941




Monday 11 September 2023

Tough Assignment - A TESTIMONIAL

Dr. Sangster used to say that Margate was a nice place to pass through. I thought the same about Eton Wick when I came to live at Windsor and took my first bicycle ride to Burnham Beeches. When the old Eton Bridge was open to traffic, I could cycle from Windsor to Eton Wick in eight minutes.

Through coming on to the Methodist preaching plan I found I had to terminate my journey at Eton Wick. It was wartime. Most of the young men were away. I was too young, though I eventually joined the Home Guard and two ARP's!

At that time there was a group of teenage youngsters at Eton Wick. There was also a lady called Sylvia Chew, who I considered to be very gracious, and who called the kids together on a Friday night. It was called a fellowship, though most of the attenders were girls. Today I suppose you would call it a House Group. For some reason I attached myself to this group. There was something rather unique about it, and one could learn so much about the Christian faith in so short a time.

Most people will know that Eton Wick is a favourite port of call for local preachers. In earlier times the pulpit was conveniently centralised so that one could see the whole congregation. Now one operates from the corner, sometimes using the raised platform, sometimes not. But there is still that "specialness" about your Church. Its people are not reluctant to pray, and the atmosphere remains warm and friendly. Harry Carter, another local preacher, used to say: "You'll have a good time at Eton Wick." I didn't like the phrase, but I knew what he meant. The loving attention and attitude of the congregation always assisted the preacher so much.

My first preaching appointment at Eton Wick was on January 30th 1944. Your membership has doubled since that date. May you continue to grow in strength and into the avenue of God's Kingdom and may this anniversary year give you good heart for the great times still to come. And may you never lose that special warmth which makes a visit so pleasurable.


The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.

This is the final excerpt from Tough Assignment. The original published price when it was published in 1986 was £1.95. 

Monday 4 September 2023