Home Guard: The Local Defence Volunteers, (the LDV, or Look, Duck and Vanish as it was jokingly known), was set up by the British Government in the early part of the Second World War. They were later renamed The Home Guard. The men were all volunteers and were either too old (over 40) or too young (under 18) to serve in the forces or worked in reserved occupations.
The Redlingfield Home Guard made the village school their HQ and used a ladder to reach the roofspace where they sometimes slept. The area around Redlingfield was defended with heavy-duty wires strung high above the long straight on the Eye road by King's Farm. The wires were attached to tubular metal posts set in concrete to stop enemy planes landing.
Searchlights were also positioned around the village as were pillboxes. On the Occold road toward the Benningham Hall junction near the pillbox - was a searchlight manned by army regulars. Many years after the war Percy Kerry - whose family lives in Redlingfield - was surprised to meet someone who had been stationed there while he was away from his Occold home serving in the Far East. There was also a searchlight on the way to Wilby and a pillbox further on. In the village there was a Military Police post (wooden sentry box) on the triangle in front of the old school - this was eventually moved towards Denham.
The Redlingfield Home Guard (pictured) were, left to right: back row, Eric Lister, Will Bartram, Arthur Lister (see also the First World War), Hully Rose, Harold Tydeman, Alfred Coe (who also a Special Constable); middle row, Frank Lister, Raymond Lister, Frank Whatling, Maurice Lister, Victor Gooderham, John Abbott; front row, Alan Bartram, Geoffrey Edwards, Arthur Poll, Henry Maybury and Ted Coe. Relatives of many of the Home Guard still live in Redlingfield. The Tydemans and Gooderhams home was destroyed in October 1943 when a B-17 crashed on Green farm killing all crew but miraculously leaving villagers with only minor injuries.
PoWs, evacuees and the Women's Land Army: Redlingfield played host to a number of visitors during the Second World War. As well as the American airmen stationed at Horham and British units manning searchlights there were evacuees and German and Italian prisoners of war. The PoWs from camp number 231 at Redgrave Park worked on War-Ag (County War Agricultural Committees) work parties on the village's farms and Italian PoWs even lived in the Rookery Lane cottages towards the end of the war. Members of the Women's Land Army were also billeted at village farms.
In 1939, the farming community of Britain greeted the idea of a Women's Land Army with scorn. It was the view of those who worked the land that it was no place for a decent woman. More than 100,000 Land Girls and 11 years later, it was the once-sceptical National Farmers' Union that protested the most when the WLA was disbanded.
The WLA set out to replace men in the fields, the milking parlours and the forests for the duration. That it achieved that goal so successfully, is down to the great vision and organisational skills of Lady Trudie Denman, the WLA's Director, and to the hard work, dedication and cheerfulness of thousands of women who met the challenge and kept Britain fed for more than a decade.
Despite the importance of the work done by the Women's Land Army, the government still felt that it was appropriate to warn them about the standards expected of them and their approach must have seemed very old fashioned to some: “You are doing a man's work and so you are dressed rather like a man; but remember that because you wear a smock and trousers you should take care to behave like an English girl who expects chivalry and respect from everyone she meets.”
On October 21st 1950, it was officially disbanded. At a ceremony at Buckingham Palace 500 Land Girls marched past the Queen, who addressed them, saying: “I have always admired their courage in responding so readily to a call which they knew must bring them . . . hardship and sometimes loneliness. Now the time has come to say goodbye, because the job has been done, but the sadness which many feel should be outweighed by pride in the achievement.”
Children: The village youngsters were also encouraged to help food production by killing ‘pests'. They received 3d (thrupence or three old pennies - 1.25p) for each rat tail and a half-penny for a sparrow's head. Eddie Coe remembers: “We took them to Mill Farm and were paid by Mr Tydeman.”
In the forces: Among the villagers who served during the Second World War were: Peter Muttock who served in Italy; Cecil Lister who served in India; and Jean Hartley who was in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service). Happily no new names needed to be added to the war memorial in the churchyard at the end of the Second World War.
Many thanks to Edith and Eddie Coe and other villagers for sharing their pictures, documents and memories. I know there are more stories and pictures out there and, hopefully, I'll be able to cover them in the village magazine and village website. If you have pictures or memories of Redlingfield and surrounds during the wars or peace time please get in touch.