After Nick John’s post about the Hutments I made enquiries from a friend, Robbie Sprague, who was born and bred in Chandler’s Ford. He wrote to me as follows:
Chandler’s Ford Local History, by Robbie Sprague:
“I do vaguely remember the prefab community at the end of Hook Road but it was a long time ago! I vividly remember the Polish camps in Chestnut Avenue and Hiltingbury Road. The Nissen huts with their half cylindrical shape were very distinctive.”
“The Polish boys in Chestnut Avenue were always up for a scrap. I can’t really remember the German PoW camp opposite the Polish camp in Hiltingbury Road but my mother talked about it. She came from Lurgan in Co. Down, N. Ireland and a soldier who was a guard at the camp came from the same town. She knew him from college days. His name was Bobby Harrison. He told a story of a German prisoner who built a most amazing ship out of matchsticks, spent many months doing it, then, in a fit of extreme anger and frustration, smashed it to pieces with his fist. That story always stuck with me.”
“I found the cache of American toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and flannels in my garden along with a live hand grenade (Robbie lives in Lakewood Road.)”
G I Helper
“However, I don’t believe I told you the story related by my Grandfather who lived in Park Road. He was having a new fireplace fitted during the war years. He and the delivery driver were struggling to lift it inside from the lorry when along came a hefty black American soldier who said, “Allow me, gentlemen” and then proceeded to carry it single-handed into the house, much to my grandfather’s astonishment and gratitude.”
“The last story is of the Headmistress of Chandler’s Ford Primary School who was cycling home along the Baddesley Road while there was a dogfight going on above her. She was suddenly aware of a German plane ‘pursuing’ her along the road and she threw herself and her bicycle into the ditch and the plane crashed into a field nearby. The pilot, it is said, parachuted down into Cranbury Park. I could meander on further but I won’t………………!!”
One evening soon I hope to get Robbie to meander on some more over a glass or two.
When I moved in to Lakewood Road in 1993, the bottom of the garden here was overgrown with rhododendron. I cleared most of it and began digging to re-plant.
Beneath the leaf mould there was something hard and big. It turned out to be concrete, probably the base of a hut. It extended across my boundary into a garden in Randall Road. Eventually it was removed from there also.
I used to ramble around Chilworth Manor woods and many of the trees there had initials carved into the bark with pierced hearts and the date – 1944. Most of these tress have been felled. Also carved there was the Morse code sign for V – victory, …-
This rhythm, de de de dah, heard in the opening bars of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, was transmitted on the ‘Light Programme’ before the cryptic messages meant for the resistance workers in France.