Hardwick Hall

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

  1. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Your ref in paragraph 4 to a NCO who was a rough swine is of great interest, I believe it is the same man I have Mentioned in a post on another thread ref 11 Parachute battalion. 11th Battalion Parachute regiment
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  2. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Me again

    Couple more photos of the building built with items taken from the Depot.

    The roof uses trusses taken from the Camp which I roughly measured at about 35 feet across.

    Roof truss.jpg
    Using the overhead photo as an overlay you can use the ruler to measure the buildings. The red line across the roof of one building as you can see in the text box measures around 35 feet. Might be clutching at straws here but used this method and the soldiers huts come out as 60 by 20 feet which was a standard size for huts.

    20190517_124450 - Copy.jpg
    The building is used as a garage (now that's given its location away!) and originally had one of the roller doors from the garages at the Camp. That has been replaced but the original winding mechanism is still used. Measures about 11 1/2 feet wide by 12 1/2 tall.
    Has eleven windows now, two from the front were replaced.

    I watched the Guy Martin programme about D-Day last night. Mentions paratroopers were the first to land but sure these were preceeded by the glider borne of Operation Deadstick.
    And it came over that all paratrooper selection had been and still is at Catterick. No one who made that programme knew about Hardwick and what an opportunity it was to put it back on the map. I shook my head in dispair!

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  3. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Just watched the programme on channel 4/7, miniscule mention of Horsas interspersed with a few clips of Horsas and Wacos (Hadrians).

    The same old story with most reporting of airborne operations of WWII nowadays. Always a disappointment but I just shrug my shoulders and think move on.
  4. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Dear grand folks who have made (and are making) such a great job with this thread.

    Not sure if this may have made it onto these pages before, so here's a bit of eye witness history courtesy of "Pegasus The Journal of Airborne Forces".

    Hope with your knowledge that you will be able to identify the building the photo was taken in front of.

    Good luck with all.

    Attached Files:

  5. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi Jim

    I've seen the article and the photo is also on the Paradata site. The building might be one of those near the North entrance with the trees around and have been told that is where the officers were billetted.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  6. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Well the boxes (some of 'em!) have come out of the loft today, apologies if this has appeared in this thread before (or elsewhere).

    My memory is heading south for the winter as fast as my hair is so again, apologies if this is already here.

    Dedication ceremony programme, 16th May 1987.

    Attached Files:

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  7. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Locals and most of the Hall volunteers know about the 'bullet holes' in the boundary walls so took a few photos today. Most are on the diagonal wall right of the main entrance and then the other diagonal wall to the left on the entrance.
    Nice grouping here!
    This is the wall that juts out to the left of the entrance.
    And a close up of the wall.
    There are a few holes on the facing walls and a few similar ones on the wall in the background of the second photo. As they are so round I'd have thought that who ever fired was near the Old Hall as an angled shot would have made an oval hole?
    What do you think?
    JimHerriot likes this.
  8. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    The only time I know of that Hardwick Hall has remembered the Depot and displayed information to visitors was in 2004, the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Photos of the Camp came from the Imperial War Museum and locals offered their memories. I found a scanned photo that was in a folder at the Hardwick Park Centre of a woman:
    Mrs Francis Parker ATS AAC cap badge - Copy.jpg
    It is captioned, 'Mrs Francis Parker ATS Hardwick, note the AAC cap badge and Parachute Regiment chest badge.'
    I should think the photo was coloured in and the uniform and shirt are blue. Wasn't the uniform meant to be khaki?
    I've read the ATS did clerical duties, served meals and packed parachutes at Hardwick.
    Can anyone enlighten me any more?

    Cee likes this.
  9. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    A big lump of concrete has appeared in the location of the trapeze. There was a bit of a hole last year that collected water but now it is much bigger, probably 8 by 6 feet and 8 inches deep. The Canada geese were paddling when we had the rain.
    You can see the five trees in the background as on the 1945 overhead of the Camp.
    Trapeze Location - Copy.jpg
    Those five trees are to the left of building 'B' and the concrete block seems to be closer to the x left of the bold x.
    It's a fair size, about 45 by 20 inches and 20 inch deep. There is only one piece of metal that has been cut down in the centre, Was expecting to find two as the trapeze legs appear in the photo. It is angled about right for the trapeze.
    Couple of years ago this wasn't exposed so makes you wander what else is still covered.
    Cee likes this.
  10. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    What is the date for the pockmarks on the entrance wall? Is it generally accepted that these occurred during the time of the Hardwick Depot in WW2?

    Looking at other photos of the trapezes I noticed there is a central steel post sticking up from some of the footings where visible. I'm not sure if this is the main anchor point or a separator arrangement for the two angled legs?

    613509522- Getty.jpg Uniforms Illustrated  James G. Shortt-Crop.jpg

    Regards ...
  11. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    HI Chuck

    The 'bullet holes' are rumoured to have been caused by troops during the war. It has been reported and a local old chap has told me there was a tank used for training along the same road so they weren't far away from the entrance.
    As always, I think you've come up with a viable solution for the single anchor point. Be nice to go over the ground with ground penetrating radar!

  12. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    There has been a Facebook page set up about a year ago for the Depot, 'Hardwick Airborne Forces And Polish Resettlement Camp' and sometimes it crops up on local history groups.
    The following account was posted from Rob Rouse who is Clay Cross born and bred and were some Airborne were billeted after Ringway.

    "About 15yrs ago I took my two sons to RAF Coningsby to see the Battle of Britain flight.
    The guy showing us round was a grand old feller, full of knowledge.
    I asked him if we could get a little closer to the Lanc as my ex wife's grandad had been a rear gunner on them. When I spoke, he cocked his head to one side and said, "Not heard that accent in a long, long time and said he'd been a sergeant in the Paras and was stationed at Hardwick. He told me how he lost his sergeant stripes.
    They were doing static line parachute drops out of tethered balloons. On this occasion an officer was in the basket. The sergeant gets everyone through the hole except the officer. "Out you go sir," he said.
    The officer replied, " Sergeant, I’m not jumping!"
    "Yes you bloody are, sir," and pushed him out. The officer grabbed the sides of the jumping hole and was dangling by his fingertips.
    The sergeant then stamped on his fingers in his hobnailed boots till the officer let go and parachuted down.
    Turned out the officer wasn't parachute trained and was only in the basket as an observer from the war department."
    Cee likes this.
  13. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member


    Well, almost a year since I last posted. On the Facebook page I last mentioned folks have been posting photos of themselves and relatives taken at the camp when it was the Resettlement Camp. Buildings are featured in the background and I'm hoping to get a chance to interview them face to face.
    The week before lockdown (March) I had a walk in the field where the Jumping Tower was and the farmer had told me his plough always hit a huge chunk of concrete. I could see where to look from the 1945 overhead.
    20200319_135848 - Copy.jpg
    March. Spotted this patch where there was nothing growing.
    A closer inspection and there are two threaded bolts sticking up.
    20200609_181328 - Copy.jpg
    Finally got back last week, the field had been ploughed and dried out and now concrete is visible.
    20200611_153012 - Copy.jpg
    This is looking up the slope and found both edges giving a width of nearly 7 feet.
    20200611_153500 - Copy.jpg
    The bolt centres are about 20 inches apart and bolt diameter is about 1 1/2 inches.
    20200611_153654 - Copy.jpg
    Length after digging down is at least 9 feet.
    20200611_153710 - Copy.jpg
    Using a Pinpointer detector I found remnants of what appear to angle iron.

    So it is a big chunk of concrete! Would this be the base for the winding mechanism with the legs of the tower surrounding it?

    Would like to have a better poke around so will have to see the farmer.

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  14. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Another visit to the field. Hardwick is only open to pre-booking so doesn't get the amount of visitors it normally does and the entrance gates are closed at 5.00pm though walkers can still enter.
    I took my probe (a golf club with the end cut off) to see how long the concrete slab is and after hitting concrete I reckon it's over 15 feet long. As the photo shows it slopes up right to left and the buried end is at least 16 inches deep.
    A local chap told me the farmer has planted grass to turn it into pasture and aims to put cattle in it.
    20200616_182910 - Copy.jpg
    JimHerriot likes this.
  15. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I didn't realize you could go through the area on Street View which gives a good sense of the lay of the land. Going by the aerial which shows the jump tower near Cross Woods it appears they moved the tower up the slope a bit away from the woods. That must be the base you are examining or am I imagining things?

    Second thoughts - the lighter lower circle could be the turn around for vehicles going to site rather than an original tower location? Sorry for confusion.

    Tower Hardwick Camp 11 Aug 45.jpg

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  16. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi Chuck.
    Hope you're well.

    The concrete is the base of the Jumping Tower and can even be seen on Google Earth.

    As I've been told by witnesses who were kids at the time there was a barrage balloon close by and I thought the circle is where they landed but would it be next to the wood? I've read the 'roads' through the camp became mud baths in heavy rain and with the camp being not too far away I don't think the soldiers would be transported there. I'm sure equipment was delivered and there appears to be a building close by. You can spot red brick and pieces of concrete in the field.

    In the Park itself I've noticed the farmer has filled in two of the man holes with aggregate. One was pretty deep so a cow could have easily broken a leg if they slipped in.

    Cee likes this.
  17. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Couple of photos from Hardwick Hall archives from around the early 1950s. The Camp was mainly occupied by Polish families.
    Bus 1.jpg Bus 2.jpg
    I know the park like the back of my hand but cannot place the location using the 1945 overhead photo. The trees in the background should be a clue but angle of the building in the second photo is confusing. One for you, Chuck!
  18. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Glen,

    Very nice pics of the children in their Cub, Scout and Brownie uniforms. A tough one for location as the photos are fairly confined and somewhat compressed. Some of the trees in the left background of first photo appear to be on a rise. The configuration of building(s) to front of them is hard to make out. Best guess is the group is near Blingsby Gate and the trees could be part of School Wood to north east.

    I considered two possibilities marked as "A" and "B" on aerial. I think it is more likely to be the "B" location as the map shows that building has sizable steps and it does have a tree in correct position in front on aerial. The irregular shaped buildings could be the ones seen in background. So the bus was probably parked on the looped driveway and the group (X) was seated on the grassy island out front.

    A & B Hardwick Camp 11 Aug 45.jpg Camp Plan  Blingsby Gate.jpg

    Regards ...

    Edit: add "B" location
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
  19. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi Chuck

    I think you've cracked it with "B". You can see the main road to the Hall which would have been much better than the ones throughout the Camp so I doubt a double decker bus could have been driven there. I think these buildings east of the road were offices and officers quarters.Must be many of those kids in their 70s now and photos that have been undiscovered.
    Thanks for your detective work though I'd have thought you'd know the make of the bus!

    Take care
  20. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Looks like a Crossley DD42
    BruceLee230 likes this.

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