Hardwick Hall

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by Drew5233, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. WW2Nation

    WW2Nation Member

    I am currently doing some research on a member of the 6th Airborne Division who was killed in action in Normandy and would have passed through Hardwick Hall Camp for the physical training course of the Parachute Regiment in 1943. Does anybody know if any records for these course exist? I have spoken with the Para Data (Airborne Assault) Museum at Duxford, they only have or are aware of the Ringway reports for each course.

    I was hoping someone on here maybe able to advise if any such post summary report of each course exists or was ever created?

  2. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member


    I got a reply back from Paradata and the only information they have about Hardwick is on their website. I also emailed Pegasus Archive and this was Mark Hickman's reply:

    "Yes Hardwick is mentioned now and again in the war diaries, but from what I can tell I don't think they go into any detail about what went on there. I can't do a thorough check of course as there's over 20,000 pages, but a quick skim through the early 1st Para Brigade diaries show it mostly being mentioned in incidental fashion, as in a simple statement that a unit moved there, or someone visited, but no notes that I can see which elaborate on that any further."

    So, I've hit a brick wall but there has to be records somewhere. I know the camp had to be kept undercover and local paper reports in 1943 only mentioned a camp in the North Midlands and as courses were still running after the end of the war, where did the records go?

    Maybe the MOD is the next contact?

    Cee likes this.
  3. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Glen,

    You may have this? There are documents related to the Hardwick Camp listed on a National Trust site. Nothing there, as far as I can see, with regard to diaries of the HQ or sub-units of the Camp.

    MNA109118 | National Trust Heritage Records

    Regards ...
  4. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi Cee

    Never seen that site so thanks for that. A few more paths to go down.
  5. Dale jackson

    Dale jackson Member

    Just for you all to know, national trust is in the process of getting together a para project and are keen for the public to help and get involved, to what extent and doing what i dont yet know.
    all i know is they are wanting names to see how many are interested...
  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  7. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    I volunteer at Stainsby Mill which everyone passes when driving to Hardwick Hall, this was also on the Channel 5 programme. I get regular updates about Hardwick so I know about the Airborne Forces project (I'd rather call it this than Paratrooper as the NT are calling it). I've got an email address for the lady involved and sent her an email only last Wednesday. Probably too late to have something on show this year but hopefully next year commemorating 75 years since D-Day.
    The real 'Secret of the NT' is still secret. Wouldn't it be great to see a main stream TV documentary about the Camp wartime and after.
    CL1 likes this.
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Went there yesterday , it was very misty.

    I asked to see it & they let us in, no trouble at all.
    I know alot of NT members cancelled their membership over the fox-hunting on NT land but that's a different kettle of fish.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
    Cee and 4jonboy like this.
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Oddly there was a Alan Titmarsh programme on a few weeks ago, the series is/was looking at old homes around the UK and their history. Hardwick Hall was the first episode and I recorded in anticipation of something about its WW2 history....Nothing !

    Edit - I see Clive mentioned it above. 60 minutes of my life I'll never get back :(
  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Forgot to mention some info I had in that email from the member of Hardwick Hall staff ,

    We are glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit and that you were able to see the memorial. I don’t know if you are aware, but every year we hold a parade day to celebrate the work of the Parachute Regiment. This year the parade takes place on Sunday 13th May. You may enjoy the event if you are able to be here, otherwise, do look out for coverage on our social media sites.
  11. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi again

    Just bought the book "Go to it!" The Illustrated History of The 6th Airborne Division by Peter Harclerode and found a 'new' photo of the Camp. It is from the Imperial War Museum. If I can't post it here then please remove it. Been on the Museum's website and found a few Airborne training photos but none from Hardwick. You can download these as long as you agree they are not for commercial use. Also sent an email to them requesting for any Hardwick photos, they've got to have originals somewhere.

    Rope line.jpg
    In the background the book calls this the 'trainasium' on which all volunteers were tested for their ability to overcome any fear of heights. I assume the 'trapeze' is behind the building to the left. The trees are two of the five still standing in the field.
    Possible rope location.jpg
    I think the rope between the two trees is marked by the red line, the photographer stood at the large blue dot, the 'trainansium' at the red rectangle and the building in the background of the photo is the orange square.

    Just to clarify about the memorial, I know visitors can ask to see it but you can only do this if you know its there. Thousands of visitors have been and gone with no knowledge of Hardwick's recent history.

    The Forces commemoration day is May 13th. I'll be going and hopefully get the chance to chat to any WW2 veterans who attend.

    Owen and Cee like this.
  12. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Went to Hardwick Park yesterday and stood at the place that I thought the photo I shared was taken but the bank you can see in the background started to far away from the tree.
    20180501_143453 - Copy.jpg
    The photo I've taken is from the top blue dot you can see on the overhead photo which lines the bank up with the tree with the red line as the rope. However the building would hide the 'trainansium'.
    Rope line Location.jpg
    So maybe there was another tree and the bottom blue dot is where the photo was taken between two trees. The tree the rope was tied to now gone. The yellow line maybe the rope location and this would put the building behind the background tree. Also you would see the 'trainasium' from there. The original photo does show branches from the left and right. Next step is to check if the rope is still tied to the tree that's left!!
    Guy Hudson likes this.
  13. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Perhaps the log training photo will help. Notice in the background the men gathered in the area between the two buildings. The left foreground tree looks similar in shape and trunk thickness to the one in your rope photo. You can actually see men on a rope at middle top.

    Log Training.JPG Log Training-Crop.JPG

    There could possibly have been two ropes attached to the large background tree? From the aerial, however, it appears a fairly large clump so there may have been more than one tree. At any rate one rope was tied to a tree at rear of flat roofed building and the other to the tree in the rope photo. The log training photo was probably shot from an elevated position on the trainasium. Going by the shadows the two photos may have been taken on same day.

    Regards ...

    Edit: Lightened photo, etc.
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
    Guy Hudson likes this.
  14. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi Cee

    Thanks for that. Never even noticed what was happening in the back ground but I was right second time around.

    I've been put into contact with a few old locals who meet up at Holmewood Library who regularly talk about the Camp and soldiers in the village. I'll post any stories I can get later.

  15. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member


    Back to the Park yesterday. I'm sure now I had the wrong tree in the background in the photo I posted earlier.
    This is what the view I think is now so the rope line would have would have been located in my first post. The tree lines up with the building in the background and the 'trainasium' would have been easier to view. So the log training photo shows there were other rope lines between the other trees.

    A chap contacted me about Clay Cross as his dad had been based there during the war and wanted to use my photo for his research. I called in the Snooker Centre which was the Drill Hall and spoke to the manager. He was great and gave me a tour and told me everything he had been told about the place.
    Tank sheds to the left and rear of the Hall.
    The doors look original.
    Original green paint?
    Between the old and new building where the van is stood was the shooting range.
    Inside the only noticeable feature is the balcony where the Drill Instructor stood.
    Manager said the ceiling is false and probably the floor has been raised when it was used as the Social Centre. He said the gardeners have found fired 303 shells over the years!
    The fields right at the back are where the POW camp was located.
  16. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I'm not sure where I picked up this log training pic. It looks like Hardwick Camp, but not entirely sure? The map of the upper grounds and airfield was posted by Andrew (Drew5233) on his Twitter account. You may already have it?

    Log Training Possibly Hardwick.jpg Map Hardwick Park 1942.jpg

    Regards ...
  17. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi Cee
    I don't think the log training is Hardwick. The land is too flat for the park and the flatter land was used as the airfield but the buildings in the background are wrong. Talking of airfield, never seen Andrew's diagram and it got me excited as I've also been trying to find about that too. Andrew's comment is about the camp but the diagram shows RAF Hardwick Park, a satelite landing ground to store aircraft.
    I've posted everything I've found at the link below.
    Hardwick Park
    I've never knew where buildings were located but seeing the diagram I can locate the foundations to a Guard Hut and where a machine gun post was.The farmer at the farm knows his land well so had found all these existing features. As with the Airborne Depot visit Hardwick and you won't see anything left or be told it existed. You drive straight across the airfield to get to the newish car park.
    For anyone interested use the link and you can see photos of what can still be found.
    Cee likes this.
  18. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member


    Went to the Para Memorial Day on Sunday. Great to see the guys from Paradata. the website for the Airborne Forces Museum and a few reenactors who brought along their Jeeps and trailers and equipment that portrayed early and late war. I know them from events I've attended. They were also there on Saturday and gave talks to existing Paras.
    There was also a guy called David Mellors who has done his own research about the Depot. He had photos, some were of those I've already posted just at different angles.
    The last time I went two years ago there was nothing at all on display. I know the Paras and their families know about the Depot and why the Memorial is held there but there are Hall visitors who wander into the old car park and like to know what is going on.
    Always humbling to see WW2 vets who were at the Depot.

    Had a walk round the park yesterday and I'd thought I'd found everything WW2 related to find and just happened to notice this:
    This is to the left of the gates to the Hall from Hardwick Inn. I have found a few of these near the Wine Glass trees that would have linked up the Guard Huts for the airfield but these don't have the broad arrow.

  19. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Got hold of another photo of the 'trapeze' taken just before or after others posted on here.
    Trapeze Location - Copy.jpg
    I used your original possible trapeze location Cee. You thought it could be located at the thick X but I wonder what the other two areas were for I marked with a thin X.
    You can see building 5 and how the foundations have had to be built up as the slope increases and building C, later used as a Miners' Hostel, is higher still.
  20. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    It does appear the photographer took quite a few photos of the trapeze action from different angles on the same occasion. Here's another showing the release and roll. In your rope training photo above you can see how far the trapeze extended down the field. Perhaps at one time they set up a short line of swings at your thin X to the left. When they decided to add onto its length they moved it forward so as not to cramp the area where the log training occurred. Just a thought.

    Uniforms Illustrated No. 10 - The Paras - James G. Shortt.jpg

    I should add that my thick X is just an approximation of an actual point on the ground (and correspondingly in the aerial) towards the top of where the row of swings begin as seen in the original compare.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: May 23, 2018

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