Ken Morgan; ‘My first memories of Christopher Sandford and his family was about 1936/37 when they used to go out in their old four-seater car. It would occasionally backfire, which would draw our attention.
‘The Home Guard met on Mr Sandford’s lawn, before they had uniforms and they had just an armband with LDV, for Local Defence Volunteers.
‘An Army Sergeant came with instructions, he had just returned from Dunkirk and he put them through the drill, with brooms, guns or pitchforks, and they would march backwards and forwards across the lawn, and then he decided he would show them how to do armed combat type things, such as rolling off the lawn into the moat, where some of the poor gentlemen with bald heads had their heads stung with nettles.
‘Then he decided to show them how to use the rifle, an A303 air rifle, and to everyone’s astonishment he put a bullet in the rifle and fired at a tree. However, there were iron railings in front of the tree and the bullet struck the railings and ricocheted up the tree.
‘After that he showed them how to make petrol bombs, known as molotov cocktails. Us kids used to try and make them too, rather a dangerous occupation, I realise now.
‘Later on, they were issued with uniforms and rifles. They went on duty at regular intervals and watched from the top of Kings Hall Hill, which was a high hill with views into about five different counties. My father used to go on duty about one night in five and they would go up at about 8 p.m. and had a hut to rest in. Later on, they had a sort of Anderson shelter for Home Guard duty. There was a quarry on Kings Hall Hill where they used to practice throwing grenades.
‘My father recalled an incident when they were throwing there, and one of the lads was so frightened when he pulled the pin, he couldn’t let go of the bomb, and someone had to dive at him to get it off him and throw it, otherwise it would have exploded and blown him up.
‘We had a fellow who worked on the farm, Sid Gough, and he was quite a portly gentleman, and he used to help with the milking. Anyway, he came down to the farmhouse one evening, tapped on the door and said, “Gaffer, come quick, the buggers have come.” My father rushed out with the rifle, and he said, “There they are coming down over Shuttocks Wood.”
‘They both went, father with his rifle and Sid with his pitchfork, and they went up to this field where they thought the Germans had landed, to find it was a barrage balloon broken loose.
‘There was a divided race American camp at Berrington Hall. The black Americans built the camp, and this was about nine months before the actual troops arrived.
‘Their lorries hauled gravel and stone from Aymestry quarries and they would hurtle past us when we were on our bikes.
‘One morning, 14,000 American troops appeared overnight. There were tents all over Berrington.
‘There was a Gypsy family called the Locks. Old Jack Lock used to play his fiddle and come and camp in Shuttocks Lane every winter. He had lots of children.
‘People respected them. They wouldn’t steal, they may take a rabbit, but that was their way of life.
‘I remember we felt so sorry for them in 1947 when we had a very severe winter. Sig Gough said old Jack got in a terrible temper as he was trying to repair a wheel on the caravan and it fell to pieces.
‘So he smashed the caravan up and they had to live in a tent. Father let them put their tent up out of the bitter east wind, and they lived in it for 3 to 4 months, right through that terrific hard frost.’
Jeremy Sandford FanClub Archives
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