Alresford Railway Station: 1940s and 50s

There are not many photos of strategic installations around WW2: it is said that taking such photos was “not the right thing to do”. But there are a few paintings. Some of these were reproduced as souvenir postcards, after the war. June Benham found two of these recently, and has provided them for us to see.

The first is from 1944, from a painting by Ian Cooper. It shows tanks preparing for unloading, to be assembled and checked prior to D-Day. Iris Crowfoot, on her HamboneJunior.com website, mentions the tanks parked on the Avenue on 4th and 5th June 1944. This was in her story “Ike and Monty came to Alresford”.

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The second postcard is from the 1950s, and rather glamorizes the smoky steam engines with shining bodywork, in the sunlit scene. But no matter. It shows Edward Terrace too, and was painted by Ken Hankin.

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Later, there were different styles of engine attending Alresford Station. Actually, my grandson and I did a 100 yard trip on the diesel engine with the unusual Thomas the Tank Engine type face, up the sidings alongside Ellingham Close, and back again!.

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Muck For Sale!

Once again Alresford Young Farmers are delivering well rotted muck from a local beef farm, high in potassium and phosphates, that are crucial for growing healthy plants.

Muck will be delivered in a large tractor on Sunday 19 February, between 0900 and 1400.

Price is £3/bag, £5/barrow load, all delivered to your door in and around Alresford. Larger quantities can be made available….

Half the proceeds go to the Alresford YFC, the other half to the YFC chosen charity for 2017: the Murray Parish Trust.

Order in advance please by phone to 0753 119 3468, or email to alres.hantsyfc@gmail.com

The story of Hambone Junior

Iris Crowfoot is another local collector of memories and stories about Alresford and the surrounding district. Her interest started as a project to learn more about Hambone Junior, the dog that was adopted by the US Forces based in Alresford in WW2. In doing this Iris has collected many wartime memories from local people, and other people too: these are published for all to read, on her website, www.HamboneJunior.com. There are a lot of interesting accounts on there, well worth reading!

In the February issue of the Alresford Forum, Iris presented a summary of the history pieced together so far about Hambone Junior, which is based on highlights from all her different stories. If the Forum story presented here interests you, you will find the longer accounts on her HamboneJunior.com website really fascinating!

From the Alresford Forum of February 2017:

“I often walk by Hambone Junior’s grave. Situated on a peaceful bank beside a sparkling trout stream in Alresford, sometimes it’s decorated with wildflowers by children on their way home from the park, and other times by a rubber ball dropped by a dog-walker. Poppies are placed there on Remembrance Sunday, to honour the memory of Hambone and his friends in the 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Division, US Army. It makes me wonder what the American soldiers actually did whilst they were in Alresford in May 1944 and how poor Hambone met his end.

By interviewing local people and researching the archives, I’ve discovered that Hambone was a ‘brown and white scruffy little terrier’ who lived in a World War II army camp in The Dene, Alresford, where Valdean Park is sited today. The 9th Division were the US Army’s experts in amphibious warfare: they had already invaded the beaches of Morocco and Sicily before they reached Alresford in November 1943. They certainly made the most of the town’s watery landscape as they prepared for the biggest amphibious operation ever attempted – the allied invasion of Normandy. The railway station clattered with steam trains delivering tanks and amphibious vehicles with aquatic names like the Water Buffalo (a tracked landing vehicle) and the Duck (a 6×6 wheeled armoured truck). The shop windows rattled in West Street as the GIs drove them down to the camp. And Hambone would have added to the racket by barking as he ran around the busy men servicing and waterproofing the vehicles.

Not all the soldiers were expert mechanics. Sergeant Eddie Knasel’s son told me, ‘It was almost unbelievable, to think of Dad in the Ordnance Corps – he just wasn’t a practical person. He couldn’t even change the oil in the car when we were growing up!’ Nevertheless, Kentucky-born Eddie supervised a team of GIs who maintained Sherman tanks in The Dene. He was 24 at the time, a bit older than most, and had completed more of his education before being called up – perhaps that was why he was given more responsibility.

The soldiers dammed the River Arle where it crosses Drove Lane, to create a pool. Then they drove the Water Buffalo and Ducks up the medieval sheep track to test their waterproofing by splashing through the pool. A landing stage was built and whole platoons practiced getting out of a landing craft and wading through the river to the other side (I hope Hambone liked swimming). Godfrey Andrews remembers that the banks of the river were lined with sandbags when he swam near here as a child, just after the war.

The Americans made friends with local people, and their kindness is still remembered a lifetime later. Les Harness, of Grange Park, Northington, was a regular visitor to the camp, collecting their kitchen leftovers to feed his hogs. A mess meal for a GI looked like almost a week’s worth of rations to the British and I’ve read that people were horrified when they saw the Americans stub out their cigarettes on leftover food on their plates. But Hambone Junior’s comrades were generous, even helping Les with his petrol ration when they spent three weeks away from Alresford training under canvas, so that he could carry on collecting the waste food for his pigs.

Disaster struck as the soldiers mobilised for the invasion. Hambone was accidentally run over by a ‘Deuce-and-a-half’ (two and a half ton) truck. The men were very upset by this, but it gave Les the opportunity to repay their generosity by giving them a puppy which had recently been born at The Grange. They named the pup ‘Spider’ and took him with them when they marched down to Southampton in June 1944. The 47th Infantry Regiment landed on Utah Beach on ‘D-Day + 4’ and fought their way home through northern France, Belgium and Germany.

Hambone’s grave was originally marked by a wooden cross. By 1962, it had rotted away and the Alresford community replaced it with a memorial stone, which was unveiled by the American Vice Consul in Southampton. In 1994, some of the original GIs returned to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in an event held in Broad Street, Alresford. They did not forget their faithful friend. Tucked away in a manila folder in the Hampshire Record Office, I found an archive photo of two old comrades placing a wreath on Hambone’s grave. A bunch of flowers was also left with the note, ‘I still remember you, Bill.’

I have not managed to find anyone who still remembers Bill … yet. If you once knew Hambone and Bill, or would like to share other memories of Hampshire during this special time, I’d love to hear from you.”

If you can add to Iris’s collection of memories about Hambone Junior, then please contact Iris either through her website, or by email.

The Voices of Bishop’s Sutton

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How about “Bishop’s Sutton Memories” as an offshoot of AlresfordMemories? OK, so there are several Bishop’s Sutton stories on this website, but in visiting the Alresford Library today I found a really enthralling new book: only just published. It is titled “Voices of Bishop’s Sutton”, and was written by Sarah Bussy, a resident of Bishop’s Sutton over the last 40 years, since 1974.

Sarah suggests that she felt very much like a ‘Townie’ person, when she first moved to Bishop’s Sutton, from her Alresford home – it was a different world to be in village life, after residing in the big Metropolis of Alresford! But having settled in, 30 years later, Sarah was involved in a parish-wide piece of team work, which resulted in a small, publicly-funded publication entitled ‘Bishop’s Sutton: An Appraisal of the Parish, 2006’. A questionnaire was circulated around all households in the village, to see what they liked and disliked about village life. Most people were really happy to live in Bishop’s Sutton, which Sarah describes as “a very friendly place, with a strong community spirit”: only one person expressed a dislike for the incoming “Townies”.

Sarah explains the background to the current book as follows:

“In the 1980s I became involved with making sound recordings of Winchester people, several of which are now in the Wessex Film and Sound Archive. Around the year 2000 I began tentatively to record in Bishop’s Sutton.

Because of other commitments, these Bishop’s Sutton tapes lay neglected, and a source of considerable guilt for years until I was suddenly spurred into further action by a Village Open Weekend held in the autumn of 2014. Several months of concentrated work followed and the book was ready for press shortly before my move to Devon in September 2015. The timing couldn’t have been better and I still feel pleased to have given something back to Bishop’s Sutton in gratitude for the 41 years I lived there with my family.”

Her book records the memories of the current residents, memories of what village life was like throughout their lives. Sarah recorded numerous current residents, dividing them up into sections that cover the 1920s; the Hillarys of Northside Farm; the accents; the houses, including colonial bungalows and council houses, as well as cottages; Domestic life (including sanitation, food and sickness); Childhood and the School; Working on the farms; Death in the village, and WW2. Selected parts of the recordings she made are published in each heading, but the original recordings are held by the Wessex Film and Sound Archive at the HRO. Apparently the recordings made of conversations with Kit Hole, Bill Hillary, Jean Hillary, Nora Hillary, and Vic Sheppard are available for visitors to listen to on request.

The book includes many old photos, provided by David Hole – some of these originated from Peter Mills’ archive. Other interviewees include Bill Smith, Barbara Upton, Joan Clift, and many more: many Alresford parents of young children will remember Bill Smith as the caretaker at Sun Hill School some years ago.

 

Pilates classes with Brenda Clarke

Brenda Clarke has been teaching exercise in Alresford and the local area since the mid 1990’s, and Pilates for the past ten years:  she is a fully qualified Level Three Instructor and a member of the Register of Exercise Professionals. Brenda explains the background as follows:

“Joseph Pilates developed his regime in the 1920’s. He had been a sickly child and having turned to athletics and exercise, found his health improved dramatically with the methods he had developed. 

Joseph went on to share his techniques and philosophies such that Pilates soon became widely recognised for providing people with the ability to improve not only their body’s health but also their mind and spirit.

My classes are set in a friendly environment, and comprise a wide variety of mat based exercises to improve bodily strength, flexibility and posture. 

Pilates is suitable for people of all ages and abilities, I provide my clients with variations of each exercise, allowing them to work at a level which best suits their goals.”

Pilates will improve your Strength, Flexibility and Posture. 

Class Timetable

Monday 9.00 am 10.00 am  ARC, Arlebury Park
Monday 10.15 am 11.15 pm  ARC, Arlebury Park
Monday 1.30 pm 2.30 pm  Bighton Village Hall
Monday 8.00 pm 9.00 pm  Bishops Sutton Village Hall
Tuesday 9.00 am 10.00 am  ARC, Arlebury Park
Tuesday 10.15 am 11.15 am  ARC, Arlebury Park
Tuesday 1.30 pm 2.30 pm  Ropley Pavilion
Wednesday 9.00 pm 10.00 pm  Old Alresford Village Hall
Wednesday 10.15 pm 11.15 pm  Old Alresford Village Hall
Wednesday 3.50 pm 4.50 pm  Sun Hill Infants School

 

Courses run in blocks of six or seven weeks and are suitable for people of all ages and ability. For more information or to book a place in one of the above classes please contact Brenda on 07752 636665 or by email [brenda.pilates@outlook.com].

Lawrence Wright, Horsas and Hansas

A story published earlier on this website describes the retirement years of Lawrence Wright, when he lived in Alresford and made extensive drawings of the buildings in the town, plus mentions some books published on architectural accessories, like stoves, fireplaces, beds and toilets!

A correspondent then highlighted his earlier publication, dealing with his knowledge of, and activities in, the Second World War, in relation to the war gliders – ie glider-borne troops delivered across the Channel into Europe, in Horsa and the Airspeed Hansa aircraft.

This is the review information found on this earlier book…..

“THE WOODEN SWORD” by Lawrence Wright, published 1967.

In 1939, at the outbreak of war, gliding ‘was not taken so seriously at the Air Ministry as to deserve even to be stopped’, in the words of Lawrence Wright, one of the dedicated band of amateur glider pilots who spent weekends before the war soaring at Dunstable Downs. Yet, by 1943, official scepticism over the strategic usefulness of gliders had largely disappeared and before the end of the fighting thousands of Allied troops and tons of equipment had been delivered to battle areas in Horsas or Hamilcars, and such historic battles as Arnhem and the Rhine crossings had been fought by glider-borne forces.

Lawrence Wright tells the inside story of the war gliders — how it all began, the men who planned and those who died, and how it ended — for the first time. lt is, he writes, ‘a very personal account of what one non-combatant Air Force officer saw of the Allied airborne forces in general and of British glider-borne forces in particular’. Written with wry humour and no false heroics this is a fascinating story – a war book with a difference.

The above Review presents a pdf copy of one of the printed versions of Lawrence Wright’s book, this one published by Elek in 1967. Copies of the book itself are available from Abe Books, and other resellers.

Display of Lady Luck memorabilia in the Globe Inn

Two earlier stories on here have mentioned the crash of the USAF B17F Flying Fortress “The Lady Luck” behind Alresford Pond in September 1943.  There was a memorial event to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the crash in 2013. These reports also said that the Globe landlord at the time had gathered together a collection of memorabilia about the crash, and certainly Nelson Trowbridge donated some of his relevant items, including a model of the Lady Luck.

Regular visits to the Globe Inn over the last few years, and over the last few landlords, showed that the Lady Luck displays were only evident on one wall, and that wall had limited access, as it was in the Gents loo! So I decided at last to record the four framed items by photographing them. Regrettably when I finally got round to it today there were only two of these items still hanging on the relevant wall – what had happened to the other two with the press cuttings I don’t know!

So the currently much reduced display at the Globe is shown below. The first is a map and account of the basic facts.

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The second framed display is what looks like the Nelson Trowbridge model of the Lady Luck, and the ‘Revell’ kit box that it came in, and that cost 14s 6d (about 75 pence).

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Outside the pub grounds, in the Soke Gardens, a plaque commemorates the event. This was organised by the Town Council, the Alresford Society, and the Alresford Historical and Literary Society in 2003, for the 60th Anniversary.

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The rear of the Globe and their pub garden overlooks the Alresford Pond: this is taken from the Soke Garden, next to the memorial plaque.

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And the front of the pub – to help identify it!

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The previous stories about the crash are as follows:

The crash of Lady Luck, 1943

Flying Fortress crash in Alresford Pond

The Alresford Museum has several other pieces of memorabilia and press cuttings about the crash of the Lady Luck, and these will be on display in the Old Fire Station when the Museum opens in the garage there, later in 2017.