Codeword Cromwell 1940 part 8 Battle of Rotherfield – “This is Rotherfield Calling……..” the world hears the villagers desperate calls for help

Posted: January 22, 2015 in rotherfield, wargames

The arrival of the 20th Panzer Grenadier Regt

The arrival of the 20th Panzer Grenadier Regt

1400hrs – With less than 6 hours of daylight left, news reached Rotherfield that Churchill had released the Home Fleet to attempt to disrupt the South Coast landings. Cheery news indeed as German troops began to make headway towards the church capturing the Copper Kettle newsagents, and the Bank and cutting off the Sussex Hunt in the process. Unconfirmed reports of an incident in the Kings Arms between landlady Betty Tanner and Bank Manager Arthur Pendrake over a refused loan added further names to the potential list of Chaplin agent suspects.  Pendrake’s status escalated from a “Person of Interest” to the highest threat level STATUS 18b (alongside Daisy Woods). Not much later St Deny’s very own vicar Mortimer Barnstaple also joined the list of Status 18b suspects after it was reported that he was suggesting perhaps too strongly that the time to surrender had come. The defenders were finding their defences stretched to the limit as Sgt Wilson joined the list of wounded thanks to his heroics stopping the German advance from the school drive. A squad of East Kents were also wiped out on Church Lane.

Heavy fighting continued in the Cricket pavilion (now utterly ruined) with the Teachers acting as bait for the Germans and allowing the Breakfast Club staff to outflank them by bursting out of the toilets using their shotguns to full effect in point blank combat. Casualties were mounting however as just a handful of their number remained uninjured. The Germans keenly aware of the strategic importance of the pavilion rushed in elements of 3 regts including the newly arrived 20th Panzer Grenadier Regt. Nearly 50 Germans were now involved in combat, outnumbering their desperate defenders by about 8:1.

Rotherfield Cemetery - German troops advanced through here unopposed

Rotherfield Cemetery – German troops advanced through here unopposed

More Germans began to inilftrate through the cemetery towards Bletchinglye Lane. In the South, the Germans were once more repulsed in Hornshurst Woods and around the bank thanks to the efforts of the Sussex Hunt who despite being cut off were still laying down a withering fire from their Vickers mg. More success was achieved outside the school as a German attack was defeated in detail by the Farm Hands now equipped with a mixture of shotguns, mills bombs and pitchforks.

The High Street from the German end. Jones and Pike defending from the upper window of the house on the left in the distance.

The High Street from the German end. Jones and Pike defending from the upper window of the house on the left in the distance.

Then a large mixed force of 25+ Germans began to build up on the East side of the High St. defended by Home Guard volunteers Cpl Jones & Pte Pike.  At this critical juncture, Australian correspondent Drayden Fox managed to reach U.S. journalist Ed Murrow over the Rotherfield Stores shop telephone. With machine gun fire clearly audible in the background the bulletin aired live in the US causing a huge sympathetic reaction amongst its listeners. More American reinforcements were promised and despatched post haste from their base in Tunbridge Wells.

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