Before we start - an explanation about the above picture of the Memorial Trees Holford. In 1945 a group of trees at the top of Longstone Hill had died, Mr. Falk who was the owner of the land at the time said he would support a scheme to replant them as a memorial to all those who had taken part in World War 2 in Holford
Parishes. The Scots Pine trees were planted in 1948 with a memorial stone, and a firebreak cut in 1950. The trees can be seen from a wide area around the Quantock Hills
forming a silhouette against the skyline. The land is now owned by the National Trust
. - sourced from Holford News & Views
World War 1 (The Great War)
World War I
) was a global war
centred in Europe
that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918
Rural Holford's peace and quiet was severely affected by the Great War (1914/18). Many young men in the parish volunteered during the first few weeks of the war believing, like many others, that the war would be over by Christmas. Among them was George Venn, the postman. He signed up to the Somerset Light Infantry
and was posted to India with the 2nd Battalion. The battalion was on garrison duty in India at the outbreak of hostilities and it was to remain there for the duration of WW1 (August 1914 Quetta, India) as part of the 4th (Quetta) Division. He then transferred to the 1st Peshawar Division in December 1917. George, was born in Holford at The Round House and later lived at Whistlers Hollow with his wife Lucy. They also ran the village post office, shop and telephone exchange in later years.
The countryside of West Somerset was a long way from the trenches of the Western Front, but the depleted labour force at home contributed as best they could to the war effort by farming the land. This force was made up of old men, women and children.
Longstone House was acquired by a village committee to house a Belgian refugee family who had lost everything fleeing from their country. Nearly every family contributed something towards their upkeep.
At the end of the war an avenue of trees and a memorial tablet inscribed with the names of the men who gave there lives for their country was placed in the village church (St. Mary's). It was unveiled by Lord St Audries.
A memorial was also erected on the triangle.
Harry Archer (second son of the late Henry James Archer, of Rock House, Halberton, and of Mrs. Archer, of Alfoxton; husband of Mary Archer (nee Birmingham), of Salem House, Uffculme, Devon) , Clifford Burge, Frank Creech (Son of Barnet and Elizabeth Creech, of Holford), Ernest Giles & Bertie Hansford (Son of the late Frederick and Annie Hansford; husband of Edith Lilian May Hansford, of 10, Cranleigh Rd., Bridgwater).
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Links
Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium A Devonshire Soldier
Arras Memorial, France
Mazingarbe Communal Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Cemetery Extension, France inc. Private Frank P Creech
Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte, France
Voormezeele Enclosure No.3, Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Belgium inc. Private Ernest Giles
Not on the Holford village memorial
Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Greece
Photograph Courtesy of Michael Berryman
Holford Triangle showing the 1st World War (1914/18) Memorial.
The shell casing apparently went missing at a time unknown and the plinth was understood to have been removed by Somerset County Council afterwards. If anyone knows of the whereabouts of either, Holford Parish Council would love to know, so that they can be re-erected in the village. Please contact Holford Parish Council
directly or via the Holford History Society
An email received from Jenny Swash does shed some more light on the shell mystery;
"During my childhood it occasionally disappeared and was replaced on its concrete plinth. Eventually it disappeared again and was not found until the owner of “Ramblers” knocked down the old garage in order to rebuild it and, lo and behold, there was the shell, I think under the floor. Anyway, (and I think this is documented in the Parish records) it was decided to dispose of it safely and it was never seen again. At the time there were many people around who had lived through the two wars and wanted no reminders – or so I seem to remember some grown-up telling me.
St. Eloi Craters
Private Frank Creech
Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) 8th Battalion
Private Ernest Giles
Canadian Soldiers Back from the Trenches during the Battle of the Somme, November 1916
World War 2
World War II
), also known as the Second World War
, was a global war
that was underway by 1939 and ended in 1945.
At the commencement of World War 2 (1939/45) the Village Hall was commandeered by the Government as a distribution centre for evacuees, mainly from East London. Please get in touch if you were one of these evacuees.
Miss Emily Norton (sister of Frederick Norton - the composer) was appointed as billeting officer and dealt with in excess of one hundred families.
A sick bay for evacuees was set up at The Counting House in Dodington under the Red Cross Commandant, Mrs. Marsden.
A Local Defence Committee was formed to organise an Air Raid Warden Service
, with it's headquarters at Combe House.
A Home Guard Company (Dads' Army) had it's headquarters in a hut on land (now Sunrising) adjoining Quantock House. It was under the command of Sergeant Brown, whose only son had been killed overseas. Caleb Eames said ''At first we had no weapons, but old Ernest Browning bought along his sledge hammer and I had my shotgun'' - Quote courtesy of Christina Taylor, Holford.
Wellington Crash 1942
On 29th October 1942, a Wellington Bomber BK310 of RAF 150 Squadron
, apparently carrying two large sea mines, crashed into a part of Higher Hare Knapp called Black Hill at 1325 hrs. There are two accounts of the crash, firstly from the Ministry of Defence (letter from the Air History Branch (RAF) attached at the bottom of this page), and secondly from A Haymans Brief History of Holford
The Aircraft took off from RAF St. Eval
, Cornwall at 1200 hrs. to fly via RAF Abingdon
in Oxfordshire to it's home base at RAF Kirmington
. The aircraft had landed at RAF St. Eval the previous night returning from operations. The weather was very bad and the aircraft, having set course, was flying for some time in cloud. Through a break in the cloud the pilot saw the sea and realised that the aircraft was well off course; he dropped down to about 600 feet to pick up the coastline. He said that the weather was very rough and the aircraft was difficult to manage, so when the Bombardier found a pin point on the coast the pilot decided to make for the nearest airfield which was RAF Western Zoyland
. The Pilot set course for this airfield but had to climb back into cloud up to 1000 feet to clear high ground. He flew on at this height until assured by another member of the crew that he was clear of all high ground and it was suggested he should try to break cloud. He had just begun to let down when the crash occurred. At the time of the accident the weather was bad with low cloud and drizzle. The Pilot was injured in the crash but sent a crew member to get help; when this person failed to return he sent another crew member for help. The Pilot said that some time later he was treated for his injuries by some Civil Defence workers before being taken to Minehead Hospital
The second account of this incident is by A. Hayman as follows: The crash killed the pilot and seriously injured the other crew members. Mr J.J.A. Hayman and his Father in Law, Mr. S.A. Wentworth were the first to reach the crash site with other Wardens carrying stretchers. The ambulance could not travel up the steep hill tracks, so the casualties were carried down to Combe House and treated by military medical units.
Another Wellington also crash landed by The Bumps, north of Combe House. The details are currently unknown.
1942 April 4th
Wartime cookery was the theme of a meeting held in Holford. The use of home grown vegetables and substitutes for flour to relieve the strain on shipping were highlighted.
1942 June 27th
Pies for workers was the plan behind a Ministry of Food
order given to Williton Rural District Council to provide extra food in rural areas. Those in urban areas were able to produce extra food at British Restaurants
, but rural workers were going hungry, local bakers were to be contacted to make the 4oz meat pies. In Holford they were distributed by Miss Norton at Hareknapp.
American troops arrive at Alfoxton 1943
In 1943 a contingent of American troops 40th Tented General Field Hospital and American nurses were stationed in a specially built camp in Alfoxton Park as part of the preparations and build up to D-Day. They were welcomed by the locals who were entertained by concerts of folk songs and spirituals given by the black soldiers. Williton (Alfoxton Camp), Somerset 7-9/44
Courtesy of Kingdom WW2 Talk
Summer Tented Camp
Gen Hosp (1000 bed)
Courtesy of Skylighters the story of 225 US AAA Battalion
In about August 1944, the 40th moved to France, and became one of the US
hospitals in the Paris Region until the end of the war.
40th FLD HOSP - ETO 11 Mar 44 England (first assignment to Ninth US Air Force/IX Troop Carrier Command, as a USAAF Hospital, only 2 out of 3 Platoons were assigned to the IX TCC, each of the 2 Platoons operated as 'separate' Air Force Clearing Stations).
Research so far suggests that the US 40th General Hospital left England in July 1944 for France. In July 1944 they are found at Sainte-Mère-Église in Normandy France and in August Le Vésinet in the suburbs of Paris (the liberation of Paris was on 25th August, on August 24th, the French Forces of the interior (Forces françaises de l'intérieur, FFI) received reinforcements from theFree French Army and from the US 3rd Army under General Patton, liberating the French capital city the following day following the surrender of the occupying German garrison) where they appear to have stayed for the duration of the war. This has yet to be confirmed.
Dr Sanders Marble Senior Historian, Office of Medical History Office of the Chief of Staff, US Army Medical Command has stated: We have on hand no information about the 40th General Hospital; we know it existed, but we don't have the files. I know they are at our National Archives, but that's near Washington DC and not particularly convenient to you (or actually to us, in south Texas). At some point this spring/summer one of our staff should have a few days in the Archives and be able to unearth the specifics about the 40th. Do you wish to be put on that list?
Some generalities might help you, however. General Hospitals provided the most specialized care, and operating in tents was not particularly easy for them; it could be done, but it was not easy, and it was not generally done if the unit was only going to be in a place for a short period. The 40th may well have been at Holford but not functioning as a hospital, especially if there was no large buildings for them to adapt into a hospital. As you can imagine, it took quite a bit of space to operate 1000 beds. While there would not have been Black men assigned to the 40th (the U.S. Army was segregated at the time) the Army Medical Department partly got around this by creating "General Hospital Complementary Units" which had Black personnel to do a variety of labor, or it may have been a "Sanitary Company" a type of unit which often did the same sort of work.
Fingers crossed, some information will be found.
40th General Hospital - Paris
The question of an adequate water supply for the camp raised a problem. Water for the village came from a 4'' main from Hodders Combe reservoir spring, but this was too small to supply the camp as well. A solution was found by diverting water from the stream, through the reservoir, then by a 3'' main pipe to the camp.
Take a walk down Alfoxton Drive and you can still see where this camp left it's mark. On the right hand side, just before you get to a bench, is a clearing with fairly young saplings. This was where the Americans cleared the trees for use as a vehicle park, possibly ambulances.
Photographs courtesy of Brett Bates
Further up the drive at the Alfoxton gate / cattle grid, the field to the right has concrete blocks in it. These formed the foundations for the searchlight used for searching for enemy aircraft of the German Luftwaffe coming up the channel. They are clearly visible on Google Earth. The field is still called 'Searchlight' by locals.
At Alfoxton there is also a line of three bomb craters (now filled in) leading from Kilve to Alfoxton. A stricken German Luftwaffe plane returning from a bombing raid on Bristol released what was left of his bomb load and narrowly missed the American Camp. The craters are visible only when the fields are freshly ploughed and this shows a difference in soil colour. This can also be seen on Google Earth.
On the eve of departure to France the American nurses made a most welcome gift to the village of womens' clothing, shoes, cigarettes and electrical equipment. Much of this was used for evacuated families.
US Normandy Landings preparations at Alfoxton
Information taken from an email by Jim Biggs Oklahoma USA
On 2nd June 1944 Company F, 314th
Infantry Regiment, 79th
Division US Army arrived at Alfoxton. During the period of June 2nd to 10th June, 1944, the regiment
was encamped at Alfoxton Park which served as a staging area in advance
of their movement to a marshaling area at the port of Southampton and subsequent departure
for Utah Beach Normandy France. Below are the Company F Morning Reports of
June 2nd to 10th, 1944. The description under “Record of Events” provides some
general information as to the Company’s location.
The Morning Report of 6th June shows 21 Privates being promoted to Private First
Class in Fox Company while at Alfoxton Park effective 1 June, Jim's father (Edgar Biggs)
was among those promoted.
Fox Company Morning Reports reproduced with kind permission of Jim Biggs
Memories of US Troops at Alfoxton by Edwin John Summerhayes
My earliest memories are of the later war years. We had evacuees from Bristol living in part of the house. I also remember sitting on the garden wall which was alongside the main road and being thrown chewing gum by the American soldiers billeted at the nearby camp at Alfoxden. My brother and the boy in the other half of the house, Vernon, were green with envy when they got home from school.
Memories of US Troops at Alfoxton by Sheila Sharp
Sheila remembers while she was at school in West Quantoxhead being taken on walks, if she was on the A39 as US troops were coming past they threw gum to them from the passing lorries, any that were not caught they were forbidden to pick up by the teaching staff - they did of course. She also remembers troops coming to the school yard for water from a standpipe again the children were forbidden to talk to them - you know what happened.
Wellington House School at Alfoxton
Hubert Riley MA, after less than two years of his becoming Head Master of the school, his country was at war. During the summer holidays of 1939, school principles, aware of what might be about to happen, had been looking for suitable premises in safer places where they could remove their schools. Some joined other prep schools, but Wellington House came to Alfoxton.
Mr. Riley wrote a book called 'Alfoxden Days', in which he describes vividly life in the country in wartime and the return to Westgate in 1946
Extracts from the privately published book in the private collection of the late Ken O'Toole '' The school became very self sufficient - wood chopping was an alternative to games for the boys. It was difficult to play team matches, in any case, as simular schools were in short supply''.
The large barn became a chapel, although one third was partitioned off to remain as the carpenters shop. The walls were lime washed, the doors painted blue and red and the cricket scoring table was placed at the east end with a plain cross of gilded wood. There were long black curtains which could be raised or lowered by scarlet cords to black out the windows by the alter. The wheel of a dog cart was patched up, painted red and blue, stuck with three dozen candles and suspended from a rafter to form a chandelier. Later the alter was raised on a dais and two small posts, bevelled and chamfered, created a santuary.
Carol Services were particularly memorable with the singers in a ring beneath the cartwheel. Lessons were read from a lecturn made of a hayrick slung from a rafter at one end of the barn and lighted by a stable candle on a pole held by the sacristan - and at the alter end, the lighting of the candles one by one.
He recalled that the 'sickle wings' (swifts?) were a nuisance, so the alter had to be covered with American cloth to protect it from their droppings and that there were also spiders and a mouse. In Holford Church a board has been set up: The boys of Wellington House School set up this board in the chapel of their exile at Alfoxton Park in token of their gratitude to God for his great mercies, but after their departure it was thrown down. At the invitation of the Rector and Parisioners, the school has replaced it here in witness of its faith and in memory of seven years among the people of Holford.
After six and a half years the school returned to Westgate-on-Sea to rebuild the school after it was released by the War Office in a very poor condition.
At the end of the war, a plaque was inserted into the communion rail in the village church bearing the names of the men who had been killed and trees were planted overlooking Holford and Kilve as described below.
Remembering: Jack Douglas Brown (Son of Harold George (Sgt. Brown of Holford Home Guard) and Clara Agnes Brown, of Holford; husband of Violet Irene Brown), Christopher James Burt, Sydney John Stone (Husband of Florence Stone, of Devonport) & Oliver Powell Croom Johnson(Son of the Hon. Sir Reginald Powell Croom-Johnson, LL.B. and of Lady Croom-Johnson, M.A. (nee Hobbs), of Trull, Somerset; husband of Jean Groom Johnson (nee Finnie), of Pollockshields, Glasgow).
The Memorial Trees Holford (top of the page) overlooking the villages of Holford and Kilve remembering all who served in the 2nd World War (1939/45) from the two villages.
Sergeant Christopher James Burt
Airman: e777413.htm Surname: Burt Init: C J Rank: Sgt Service: RAF Sqdn: 21
P_link: p011.htm Plane: BLE R3732 Operation: Not DK/G Crash_site: The North Sea
Crash_d: d090740 Buried_d: e777 C_link: e777.htm At_Next: NO KNOWN
On 9 July 1940 at 12.31 hours BLE R3732 lost radio contact to another plane that had also attacked Sola Airfield (here) at Stavanger in Norway.
(Danish) Aviation Historical Review writes:
6 Blenheims from 21 Squadron and 6 from 57 Squadron took off at 08.00 hours. Shortly after 11.00 the planes attacked Sola Airfield (here) at Stavanger and were met with heavy flak. During the attack the formation was attacked by Me110s and Bf109s. 4 Blenheims from 21 Squadron and 2 from 57 Squadron were shot down over the Skagerrak. W/C Leslie Clive Bennett, 34, managed to escape with his plane in spite of considerable damage. At 11.45 hours Bennett had radio contact to another
plane. He reported that the damage was so extensive that he would not be able to make it back to England and that he would try to ditch at sea. Kinloss kept radio contact with W/C Bennett till 12.31 hours. No trace of the plane and its crew has ever been found in spite of intensive search. On 28 September 1940 the body of
W/C Bennett was found washed ashore at Lønstrup and he was buried shortly after in Lønstrup Churchyard. (FT 89-32-4)Sergeant Christopher James Burt was from the United Kingdom. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 12, among more than 20,000 airmen who have no known grave. (Source: CWGC)1 airman from BLE R3732 was buried in Lønstrup. 2 airmen have no known grave.
See Bomber Command No. 21 Squadron and No. 21 Squadron RAF in Wikipedia. Also The Blenheim Society.
This Blenheim took off from RAF Lossiemouth - see the present RAF Lossiemouth - RAF Station homepage. Lost Bombers has this. 3 airmen.
Memorial to airman lost in Danish Waters
Pilot Officer Oliver Powell CROOM-JOHNSON
611th Squadron, Royal Air Force. Killed 30th May, 1940. Age 27. Son of the Hon. Sir Reginald Powell Croom-Johnson, LL.B. and of Lady Croom-Johnson, M.A. nee Hobbs, of Trull, Somerset; husband of Jean Groom Johnson nee Finnie, of Pollockshields, Glasgow. Buried in the Churchyard of St. Peter’s Church, Over Wallop, Hampshire.
- Fighter, Supermarine Spitfire Mk I
Fighter Command, 12 Group
No 611 Squadron was formed on 10 February 1936 at Hendon as a day bomber unit of the Auxiliary Air Force and moved to Speke on 6 May to begin recruiting personnel from Merseyside.
Believed to have been shot down in operations over Dunkirk
Chief Petty Officer Supply Sydney John Stone
Sunk off Casablanca in Morocco
, in the Atlantic Ocean on 12 November 1942 by German U Boat U-515
while patrolling the African
coast. HMS Hecla
and HMS Vindictive
with the escort ships HMS Venomous
and HMS Marne
, were part of a convoy as part of Operation Torch
west of Gibraltar
. On November 12th, during the Allied landings in North Africa, Hecla (Capt. Stephen Harry Tolson
Arliss, DSO, RN) was torpedoed just after midnight by U-515
and sunk west of Gibraltar in position 35º43'N, 09º54'W. The escorting destroyer HMS Marne
was also torpedoed whilst attempting to rescue the survivors, and the destroyer had to be towed to Gibraltar. The destroyer HMS Venomous
succeeded in rescuing more survivors from Hecla and landed them at Casablanca. In all 279 off her crew went down with the ship and 568 men were rescued.
Chief Petty Officer Supply
Sergeant Jack Douglas Brown
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Commonwealth War Graves Commission links
Over Wallop (St. Peter) Churchyard England
Runnymede Memorial England
St. Manview War Cemetery, Cheux, France
Plymouth Naval Memorial England Stores CPO Column 3
Womens Land Army- Does anyone know anything about about Land Girls in Holford? Who were they? Where did they come from? Where did they work? Where you one of them? Does anyone know the girls in the photographs below at Cannington.
The Women's Land Army
(WLA) was a British civilian organisation created during the First
and Second World Wars
to work in agriculture
replacing men called up to the military. Women who worked for the WLA were commonly known as Land Girls
Woodlands Farm employed one Land Girl (mature), a Miss
Stuttiford who lived with a companion in Briar Cottage
, she worked with Ted Gibbs,
who was full of praise for her efforts.
Shortcut to you tube 16mm film of Land Girls
Holford and Kilve Home GuardOn the night of 14th May 1940, Anthony Eden made his first
speech as Secretary of State for War. Part of this speech was asking for volunteers
for the Local Defence Volunteers:
'We want large numbers of such men in Great Britain who are British subjects,
between the ages of seventeen and sixty-five, to come forward now and offer
their services in order to make assurance [that an invasion would be repelled]
doubly sure. The name of the new force which is now to be raised will be the
Local Defence Volunteers. This name describes its duties in three words. You
will not be paid, but you will receive uniforms and will be armed. In order
to volunteer, what you have to do is give your name at your local police station,
and then, when we want you, we will let you know...'The Government expected 150,000 men to volunteer when
Anthony Eden made his broadcast on 14th May 1940. Within 24 hours of the broadcast,
250,000 men had put down their names and by the end of May 1940 the number was
between 300,000 and 400,000. By the end of June, 1940 the number of volunteers
was just under 1½ million. The number peaked at 1.8 million in March 1943
and never fell below 1 million until the Home Guard was disbanded.
Members of the Home Guard were either in reserved occupations,
too young or too old to serve in the normal army.
A reserved occupation is a job which was deemed as vital to the war effort.
Examples of reserved occupations in the Second World War included coal
mining, ship building, and many engineering-related trades. The
situation and the Schedule were constantly reviewed, most particularly
because of the influx of women into the workplace, for example into the
munitions industry, which freed up men to be called up. Many in reserved
occupations joined civil defence units such as the Special Constabulary
, the Home Guard
or the ARP
which created additional responsibilities on top of their work,
although this allowed the men to ‘serve’ without having to join up, thus
alleviating the frustration many felt. Also, many pacifists and
conscientious objectors worked in reserved occupations as a compromise
or to avoid call-up. Harper Adams University College
saw a huge demand for places during the Second World War, as both
agricultural students and farmers were exempt from conscription.
The Cold War
Holford and Kilve Home Guard
believed to have been taken at Kilve Court
- courtesy of Wreford Gibbs and Sheila Sharp
John Lock (Kilve), ? , Harold Neathey, ? ,Harry Gibbs (Holford)
Middle Row Freddie Davis (Kilve), ? , ? , ? ,? Stone (Dodington),'Pimp' Stone (Dodington),Ted Gibbs
(Holford) (Wreford Gibbs Father)
Front Row Doug Farmer, Lance Corporal? , Tom Gibbs (Holford), Serjeant Ernie Frome, Serjeant Ernest Brown (Holford), ? , Lance Corporal Reginald Wordberry
Can you name any more of these men and which one was Caleb Eames?
A Local Defence Committee LDV (later to be renamed the Home Guard) was formed to organize an Air Raid Warden Service
, with it's headquarters at Combe House.
A Home Guard Company (Dads' Army) had it's headquarters in a hut on
land (now Sun-rising) adjoining Quantock House. It was under the
command of Serjeant Ernest Browning, whose only son Serjeant Jack James Brown (DOD 08/07/1944 Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry 5th Battalion) had been killed overseas.
Caleb Eames said ''At first we had no weapons, but old Ernest Browning
bought along his sledge hammer and I had my shotgun'' - Quote courtesy
of Christina Taylor.
The Home Guard manned a road block at the crossroads of the Kilton / Holford and
Stogursey / Kilve at night. They was issued with .303 Royal Enfield rifles
, either British or US Army WW1 rifles.
The US Army rifles used to be painted with a red strip as the ammunition was different (300" M1906 (30-06)) to avoid any mistakes.
Somerset Auxiliary Units
Auxiliary Units - A secret resistance network of volunteers
prepared to be Britain's last ditch line of defence during World War Two. They operated in a network of cells from
hidden underground bases around the UK. Some members recruited were from the Home Guard, but others such as farmers, gamekeepers etc were also involved. This was a secret organisation which operated all over the UK, many sites and units are now known, but many are still not discovered, many of which are in Somerset - Follow this link to Somersets Auxiliary Units for information so far, there were local patrols, was anyone from Holford involved, can you shed any information about these local units - Nether Stowey, Stowey, Blue Anchor or Spaxton in particular?
There is a rumour of an OB (Operational Base) around Alfoxton - not confirmed can anyone shed any light on this?
The Cold War
, often dated from 1945 to 1991, was a sustained state of political and military tension between powers in the Western Bloc
, dominated by the United States
and other allies; versus powers in the Eastern Bloc
, dominated by the Soviet Union
with the Warsaw Pact
and other allies.
The Royal Observer Corps
The ROC had a bunker in Holford on Kilton Hill. It's exact use is unknown, although a description of the Observer Corps activities and a brief history is below. It is thought to have been used as a nuclear monitoring station, linked to nearby Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station. It was also known to have been used for observations and measurements during WW2. Bill Squires from Woodlands Holford (Wreford Gibbs Uncle) was a member of the Observer Corps during WW2 based at Kilton Hill. During the Cold War, should there have been a nuclear strike, it would have been fully operational.
The bunker is on the right hand side of the road going up Kilton Hill if coming from the direction of Holford. The bunkers grid reference is ST16194286. The site was first used in 1938 as a warning site for high ground, codename 'Granite' and then in 1942 for lost aircraft, codename 'Darky' (see details below). The current structure, built in the 1950s, was opened in 1962 and closed in 1991. The access shaft has had several iron bars welded across it and the hatch cover is missing, providing no access underground.
The Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was a defence warning organisation operating from 1925. It was created to provide a system for detecting, tracking and reporting aircraft over Britain. They played a very important part during World War Two in the Battle of Britain.
The end of the Second World War brought the new and terrifying prospect of nuclear war. In Britain the public would have had a mere four minute warning of the approach of nuclear missiles and it was the job of the Royal Observer Corps to warn the public of the impending attack, report the explosions and plot the path of the deadly nuclear fallout.
From 1955 the Corps operated from 1563 ROC underground monitoring 'posts' about 7-8 miles apart from each other throughout the UK. In 1968 the Corps was re-organised and about half of the posts were closed . In September 1991 the remaining 872 posts were stood down and abandoned.
A ROC monitoring post at Holford was at the rear of a small parking area. The post (22/L.1 Holford) was opened in September 1938 and was equipped with warning flares for high ground (codename 'Granite') a system of coloured flares and rockets deployed by the Royal Observer Corps to warn aircraft of high ground in fog and mist. In certain parts of the country the flares were used to steer fogbound aircraft to FIDO equipped airfields. In 1942 it also had radio direction equipment for lost aircraft (codename 'Darky'), a backup system in case the other systems used by the RAF were broken or the operator of the other direction finding systems was dead. Using his radio, on 6.440 MHz the pilot could be talked back to his home base. The post was renumbered 9/A.2 in November 1953 and the underground post constructed in June 1962. Still in use in 1979 it became 9/12 post, changing again in April 1982 to 9/22 post. The site, which was closed in September 1991, has been vandalised and is not accessible, and is slightly flooded. Inside there is a small metal frame within the compound which supports a revolving pole with a metal grid with muslin stretched over it. A similar feature, observed at Trawsfynedd in North Wales, was suggested as monitoring equipment for fall out from the nearby nuclear power station. As Hinkley Point is so close to this post, this use is also possible here. A structure is visible on the RAF vertical aerial photographs in 1946. The remains of an ROC underground monitoring post for nuclear fallout can be seen at ST 1619 4285. They comprise the entry shaft, air shaft and post for the mounting of the ground zero indicator. An ROC observation post, built in the Second World close to this locality assumably within the boundary of the current site, has been demolished and no remains can be observed.
Subterranean Britannic has some internal photos here
Internal Diagram Circa 1962 The Time Chamber
Aerial view of the bunker site virtualglobetrotting.com
ROC remembered - Holford Photographs rocremembered.com
More ROC Holford Photos - Mark Jackson
Coastal & anti invasion defences Holford History Society
British Resistance Organisation
Photographs below by Brett Bates
Entry hatch with attached ventilation shaft
Looking down the entrance
Entry hatch with attached ventilation shaft
Fixed Survey Meter (FSM) Tube - large pipe with a bolted cover - for the external components of the FSM
View from the area