Researching the Military history of Slindon in West Sussex, any information, anecdotes, are most welcome, particularly interested in World War One / World War Two connections.
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. A National Trust Village, which has changed little, over the years;
There many very early houses, many date from the late 1400s,
There is a fine mansion, Slindon house, and now a boy’s school known as Slindon College.
The Estate has a very varied history, once the home for periods of time to the early Archbishops of Canterbury, circa 1200s-1500s, Thomas Becket made many visits to the Archbishops palace, and two ordinations were carried out there.
The First World War it was home for German Prisoners of War, and an Airship Station, these airships went on patrol in the English Channel looking for German Submarines.
The Second World War it was home for Italian Prisoners of War, and a Dummy Airfield at the Gumber.
1st and 2nd World War at Slindon
First World War
During the First World War, Slindon House was used as an auxiliary hospital run by Lady Beaumont, the sister of Wooton Issacson.
A prisoner-of-war camp, guarded by Canadian troops, was established between the bottom of Nore Hill and West Gumber Gate (SU 9623 1175). The prisoners were used to clear trees from the area and the remains of the incinerator that served the camp is still visible.
Second World War
During the Second World War the house was again utilised as a hospital before being taken over for used by the army stationing troops who were later to take part in the Dieppe raid.
Tree felling also took place on quite a large scale with large beech trees being taken from Nore Wood from an area around the back of the folly: Previously unfarmed land was reclaimed and brought back into production this consisted principally of the area of cleared land next to where the First World War prisoner-of-war camp had been located, which had become covered in gorse and scrub. Even today these fields are still referred to as War Ag 1-4.
Apart from the troops billeted in Slindon House just before the Dieppe raid there were no other military camps on the estate for the duration of the war except for the build up to D-Day, where some were temporarily camped in the Park.
There was however, a dummy airfield constructed on the Gumber as a decoy from RAF Tangmere, which was sited nearby. The raid shelters built at the same time as the dummy airfield are still in existence.
List of Sites
Slindon Estate Base Camp
One of the wooden sheds is supposed to have been part of the First World War PoW camp and was purchased in an auction after 1918. Need to research and understand which building is being referred to and then survey in detail.
Also, located in the stable yard is a iron trolley, which is supposed to have formed part of the light railway installed on the estate to transport wood. Again this needs to be found, given a clean up, photographed and recorded.
Air Raid Shelter, Slindon Park
Located near the Ice House in Slindon Park was an Air Raid shelter. Need to visit to see if building is still in-situ and record accordingly. An AA battery may also have been located in this vicinity.
POW Camp, Nore Hill
Only known remain is the incinerator. This has been photographed, but needs revisiting and recording properly. Also, need to see what other evidence still remains on the ground for the PoW Camp i.e. concrete footings for buildings.
Airship Mooring Site, Northwood Cottages
Although not mentioned in the Whitfield report, there is photographic evidence of a First World War airship-mooring site somewhere close to the Northwood Cottages.
The areas to be investigated are the woods to the South and West of the cottages. The photos show a series of huts, so any remaining evidence will either be the concrete moorings for the airships (or observation balloons) or concrete foundations for the huts (the staff were housed under canvas).