British Training Schools in Teesdale

Discussion in 'General' started by luketallentire, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Has anyone any information on any of the British Army Battle Schools near Barnard Castle in Teesdale?
    There was;
    Bradford Camp
    Humbleton Camp
    Streatlam Camp
    Deerbolt Camp
    Westwick Camp
  2. Dave Middlemas

    Dave Middlemas New Member

    Barnard Castle Battle School (Infantry) operated from 1941 to 1945 incorporating the 3 camps of Humbleton, Westwick and Stainton.
    Those at Deerbolt, Barford and Streatlam were training camps for Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) units. Some training facilities at Stainton were shared by the Battle School and RAC.
    Humbleton and Westwick camps were on the A67 east of Barnard Castle, a mile or so north of the River Tees. Westwick was the home of the residential demonstration battalion which was used to allow incoming students: junior officers and NCOs, to practice their skills. From early 1942 through to 1943 this was 70th Battalion (Young Soldiers) Durham Light Infantry - all of whom had joined as volunteers under 20. Humbleton nearby was used as extra barracks for visiting units. Classrooms, lecture theatres, admin and HQ staff were at Stainton which was the last of the camps to be completed, in 1942.
    The school was set up by a Lt/Col Lionel Wigram and drew 200-300 junior officers and senior NCOs on a 3 week overlapping turnaround. The idea was to teach tactical fieldcraft following the principles of fire and movement at section, platoon and company level - rather than the antiquated WW1 tactics of predicted and timed massed attack following artillery barrage. As such it encouraged intuition, initiative, role familiarity and tactical thinking and was widely praised by most who attended. It did have its detractors amongst the established officer class of the pre-war regular army, but was supported by Home Army Commander Gen Paget who ensured that other such schools were set up at Divisional level throughout the UK and Empire. Barnard Castle became the HQ of all Battle Schools and from 1942 also instructed instructors. Senior officers were also encouraged to visit and Churchill himself came to view exercises on 4th December that year.
    Much of the section and platoon training took place in the fields around the nearby village of Whorlton and on the river banks of the Tees. The local chain bridge often became the focal point for mock attacks and troops were often to ford the river and climb the cliffs here. Some training was done under live firing and there were fatalities. Larger company sized exercises took place on Cotherstone and Bowes Moors - west of the town and south of the Tees (then Yorkshire). Here advances were made accompanied by artillery and mortar barrages and coordinated exercises with RAC took place - although live firing by tanks only ever occurred at Warcop (Cumbria). Ground/air coordination was also initially undertaken with strafing and bombing at low level by Fairey Battle and Curtis Tomahawk aircraft from RAF Catterick, although aircraft ground-attack training moved to RAF Millfield in 1943 with the advent of fighter-bombers. Training exercises by infantry units and RAC took place throughout the Teesdale area during the war and there is hardly a village or farm which did not experience military activity in one shape or another.
    The school petered out in late 1944 for various reasons, was rebranded and officially moved to Warminster in 1945. The army left Barnard Castle in 1972. Some of Stainton camp remains as a housing estate (post war married quarters) and industrial park (HQ depot). Humbleton and Westwick are more or less levelled with foundations only remaining. Barford survives to some extent as a motorsport complex, Streatlam is levelled and Deerbolt became a prison.
    Im hoping to write a book about it all one day so I'll keep you posted if you're interested.
  3. Gary Guess

    Gary Guess New Member

    Interestingly there is a combined Cleveland and Durham Army Cadet Force training centre at Stainton, can't remember when it was built but I used it frequently when I was an Adult Instructor with Cleveland, often wondered what the significance of the obvious military buildings that remained were, now I know...cheers

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