Hardwick Hall

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

  1. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Glen,

    Great articles. "It's a fair cop. You have caught us pinching this stuff." ... :D I wonder if those tall structures are boiler buildings each of which heats a number of huts?

    Glen I was hoping you had in mind one day putting out a book yourself? No easy matter I know. One advantage of posting here is that all your research is time stamped which hopefully prevents it being used by others without acknowledgement.

    Regards ...
     
  2. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    Not sure what the tall structures are. Wouldn't each hut have its own heating system? Notice the parade ground to the top left with the darker tree which is still there. Still amazes me what was there and then the big National Trust cover up!

    Yes, there is a book there but not enough info yet. The Trust has the muscle to glean more info from the MOD etc if they pull their finger out.

    Glen
     
  3. CinC

    CinC Member

    It is amazing how many of the comments about the Hardwick Camp both on this site and the Old Chesterfield photos Facebook group focus on the rowdy behaviour of the camp's inmates - both paratroops and Poles. As the young men of Chesterfield - then as now - were a peaceful lot who would never overindulge in hard liquor we must assume that any fights were down to the squadies.:D

    Here is an account from my partner's brother - the eldest son of Janek Schmidt who was at the camp in 1946.

    The soldiers were not very popular with the young men and dad tells a story of going to a dance hall (in Chesterfield?) and inevitably a fight started and the police were called. He and his pals locked the policemen in the gents toilets so they could continue the fight. One of the Polish lads went into the nearby milk depot where the floats were loaded up for the morning and drove a float round to the dance hall.They then used the bottles as missiles against the local lads.

    Dad used to talk about the discipline and punishment at the camp. He once had to scrub out the toilets with a toothbrush for some misdemeanour. Four men carried a matchstick in a blanket around the parade ground. A mound of sand had to be moved from one side of the parade to the other then moved back again.
    All good stuff!

    Would it help if we wrote to the National Trust saying we supported the idea of an exhibition about the camp?

    Carl
     
    Cee likes this.
  4. Dale jackson

    Dale jackson Member

    That guy would be me! so have words if you must, but i actually haven't done any research at all or used any content on here without anyone's permission, at the time i was just simply letting people know that the national trust are wanting to research the camps and wanting people to get involved? i have great interest in the camps, and have found many bits and bobs laying around in the areas, but dont post that often as i clearly dont have as much knowledge of the area as some of the guys in here, im just willing and interest so please dont hate on me just yet ha. i actually believe at the time i asked you personally to get invovled?
     
  5. Dale jackson

    Dale jackson Member

    Here are a few of the bits i have found, i also believe i have some plate somewhere what says hardwick and a date. Anyone else got any objects?
     

    Attached Files:

    Cee likes this.
  6. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi
    The exclamation marks do show it was a tongue-in-cheek remark. At present I'm sure I've find everything there is online about the Camp and it is up to us to keep adding to it and Carl's photo is a prime example that's required to catch people's attention. It's great that you set up the Facebook page although I would prefer it to be called 'Hardwick Airborne Forces Depot and etc' as it wasn't just for Paratroopers. Have to include Hardwick as it would appear if anyone was searching Hardwick and maybe attract attention. I'll be posting articles and photos on it. There wasn't any security issues after the war, families lived in the huts so it was just like a housing estate so photos were taken there and they are in biscuit tins in cupboards and under beds waiting to be unearthed. it is a matter of getting the message out. I know about the Trust's intentions but I'll believe it when I see it. Here is a quote from the Trust website: 'Your visits help us to preserve and protect the heritage at our places and spaces - for ever, for everyone'. Whatever! At Hardwick if it isn't 500 years old or owned by the filthy rich the Trust aren't bothered.
    Everyone reading this please send an email to Hardwick saying you are interested in the Camp wartime and post-war and ask if they have displays or guided tours as you are interested in visiting.
    Email hardwickhall@nationaltrust.org.uk
    OK, there is bugger all there but if they get flooded with emails expressing an interest, surely they'll do something as visitors make money!
    You can post this on your page, Dale, but don't mention the 'bugger all' bit!

    Glen
     
    Cee likes this.
  7. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi,

    Recently while wandering through ParaData I came across an entry on Major Derick R. Reid (Tiger). It turns out he was with the Battle School and Chief Instructor for a time.

    "In November 1942 his battalion was converted to the 7th (Light Infantry) Para Bn. Promoted to Major, he spent a year as the Chief Instructor of the Airborne Battle School at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, a time he would later recall with great fondness. Returning to his Battalion in command of B Coy in October 1944, he was soon to see active service in the Ardennes in the winter of 1944-45 as part of 6 AB Div. Only a month after returning from the Ardennes he dropped with the Division into Germany at the Rhine Crossing on 24 March 45."

    There's a group photo of Paras training on the moors dated April, 1944. I often wondered who the Officer was centre front kneeling. I'm pretty sure now after getting Michael P-C's opinion that it is Tiger Reid. The Battle School closed in March of 1944 and "a new preliminary Battle/Tactical School was set up at Dore and Totley." The photo is from the collection of Douglas Alfred Watkins and they are probably on the moors west of Totley. It was taken by F. H. Brindley, a commercial photographer from Sheffield.

    Pic_Watkins2_high-April 44.jpg Major Derick R. Reid (Tiger).jpg majdrreid_oc_b-coy,_7_para_bn_1945.jpg

    Regards ...
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
  8. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    Chuck mentioned in the last post here about Major Derick R Reid and sent me photos of documents now in Michael Pine-Coffin's possession. One is a Battle School schedule from 1944 ran by Major Reid. I spent time typing it up on Word using 'Bohemian Typewriter', a free font that replicates old typewriter font, as close to the original as possible. problem is I can't post docs so had to convert it to a pdf which has changed the font! Still, gives you an idea of what the course involved. Chuck and I have tried to work out the abbreviations and I've added info about locations being a local an'all! I'll post others later.

    Glen
     

    Attached Files:

    Cee likes this.
  9. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    The letters were correspondence between Major Derick Reid OC B Coy and Lt Ron Hinman 6 Plt B Coy, who was seriously wounded on the Wunstorf airfield on the 7th April 1945. The letters were given to Gordon Elliott, one of the few men to survive the explosion on the bridge that wiped out most of B Coy on the same day. In turn they were given to his friend Tony Lea, who gave them to Michael Pine-Coffin.
    The attached is Ron's interpretation of 'The Tunnels' at Hardwick. It makes great reading as Ron was obviously a brilliant word-smith.
     

    Attached Files:

    Cee likes this.
  10. Tanja van Zon-Anderson

    Tanja van Zon-Anderson Senior Member

    Hi All,

    Thank you for sharing all these information about Hardwick Hall.

    My uncle pte. G. Anderson was there on course 93 (29-11-1943 / 13-12-1943) for his last parachute training.
    He wrote his parents he passed the last test and was going to Manchester Ringway.

    The photo's, maps and written info gave me a small idea about the training.
    So I am very pleased.

    Greetings
    Tanja Anderson
     
  11. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi Tanja

    So Nov.29th 1943 was a Monday. Does that mean every course started on a Monday meaning Course 1 began Feb.23rd 1942? (I counted back from 93!) And, did they train on Sundays?
    What Regiment was your Uncle in before wanting to join the Paras? Are there any comments about Hardwick in the letters?
    I've posted a transcript of a letter that Derick Reid wrote to Ron Hinman back in 1993 now in Michael Pine-Coffin's possession. Even 25 years ago Derick was trying to find information on the Camp and when he says 'all the Depot records had been lost or mislaid' it doesn't sound promising today.
    So Tanja, you can see how useful your post can be to telling the history of the Depot.

    Glen
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
    Cee likes this.
  12. Swinderby

    Swinderby New Member

    Hi everyone,
    This being my first post on this excellent forum, I wanted to 'jump into the fray' so to speak regarding the position that the National Trust have on the subject of Hardwick Camp. Having avidly devoured all your hard detective work, which I respect and admire, I find it hard to believe that the NT have not yet made anything of the camp, certainly not to the general public, when there is this wealth of research, resources and dedicated people!
    But look at what Belton House-Grantham have achieved with their connection to the Machine Gun Corps and The First World War; publications, re-enactment events at salient commemorative dates, archaeological digs, themed board displays within the House, and even guided walking tours around the grounds showing where the camp was. Time Team may have kick-started all of this, but the NT have not been idle in losing the military history of the House and grounds. Ps. Belton was also a training camp in the Second World War for the First Airborne Division prior to leaving for Arnhem, although this element of its military heritage has not yet been acknowledged by the NT at Belton.

    So, could the NT at Hardwick follow suit? I read, in this thread; that the Trust at Hardwick are interested in pursuing some form of historical remembrance of its 'Airborne heritage' but wouldn't it be nice to see this happen before the last of the veterans 'fade' into the history books.
    I was at Hardwick today, there is still much to see, yet it is so interesting and important and a shame that little is known outside of military/social history arena.
    There is a fantastic dedicated bunch of people who could help and make this a lasting tribute and legacy. Not least the people on this forum but also the massive weight of the National Trust.

    Sorry for such a long 'first' post.

    Looking forward to future posts.
    Phil.
     
    Cee and Owen like this.
  13. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    Well, been a while but not much happening. I know a guy who had a meeting with the manager. There is 'interest' at Hardwick though the manager said a Heritage Lottery Fund would be required which could take a while! Oh dear! Obviously the National Trust can't chip in a few hundred quid to produce a couple of information boards to put in the Hall just to get the ball rolling but then they took over Hardwick nearly 60 years ago and have done diddly squat.
    I have read a book about the Hall and basically one of the conditions of taking over the Hall and the Park was to remove the Camp altogether.
    I've known of the model parachute tower for a couple of years having been showed it by the Rangers at the Park Centre. It was made by a student over ten years ago and had become dusty and broken and the original figures were 1/72 scale.
    20181203_134242.jpg 20181203_134314.jpg 20181203_134411.jpg
    Not a great deal of info on the net but there is a description and photo of a tower at Largo House used by the Polish Paras, 100 feet tall with a braking system. Redone the base and used 35mm figures and painted a couple as RAF. The tower should be lot narrower and use less substantial building materials but not a bad effort.
    I just happen to be watching the film Operation Crossbow today and saw them jumping from a parachute tower. Missed a little bit so only got close ups of the actors. Found that these scenes were filmed at RAF Abingdon. Is the tower still there?
    The tower is back in the Park Centre with a brief description I did. It's in the back room but hopefully it could be put on display. The Rangers have been told about the Hall's 'interest' and I've asked them to keep me up to date.

    Cheers

    Glen
     
  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Glen,

    There are a few short scenes in a Movietone compilation of offcuts showing men jumping from a tower at about the 3:12 mark. It looks similar in design to the one at Hardwick. I'm not sure of the date - 1942?

    AIRBORNE TROOPS AND PARATROOPS - SOUND - Movietone

    AIRBORNE TROOPS AND PARATROOPS - SOUND-1.jpg

    Regards ....
     
  15. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi Chuck

    Thanks for the link. That's a film I've missed on Youtube. Early 1942 I should think as still using the step-in smocks and probably filmed all around Ringway and maybe Tatton Park. Interesting as some shots of the Horsas have houses in the background.
    Yes, I should think it was the same as the one at Hardwick. Notice how the troops queue on different floors. I suppose having it that way meant you got to the top and had to jump straight away. If you refused the tower, you wouldn't have much chance of jumping from a balloon then a plane!

    Glen
     
  16. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Glen,

    Some of clips may have been filmed at RAF Netheravon which was a grass strip airfield and briefly home to Squadrons formed as troop carriers. I'm not sure of the location of the jump tower and swings, but wouldn't be surprised if they were erected nearby as well.

    Regards ...
     

Share This Page