Archive for the ‘rotherfield’ Category

“Are you mad? the alliance…..”

I’m aware that the majority of my recent posts have been somewhat heavy on the wargames front so after a 3 month hiatus, just like London buses here’s the second of today’s musings and something completely different. Having booked in for an “Everything English” supper club evening at Rotherfield’s rather splendid Courtyard Café ( to celebrate St George’s day I suppose it was inevitable that sooner or later I’d be asked to don the old 30 kilo’s (4 & 3/4 stones) of metal beautificence (my 15 year old armour from to add a touch of flavour to the event and to be honest I’ve always wanted to see if eating and drinking in full harness could be done. Well the answer is YES although wearing it for 7 hours has resulted in two walnut sized lumps on my collar bones. Still it was worth it especially as one managed to enjoy a few glasses of one of ones favourite white wines, none other than the award winning Horsmonden dry from Davenport Vineyards.

Dum vivimus, vivamus

The final German assault begins

The final German assault begins

With Chaplin (Barnstaple) dealt with, the villagers collectively took a deep breath for the coming onslaught. Doctor Greystone and heroic Aussie reporter Fox joined Headmistress Featherlake and Pte Pike in the church while the rest took up position in the grounds. Heavy fire was directed from 3 sides as the Germans began to move in. With no heavy or anti-tank weapons to call on the villagers had to make do with a paltry collection of a couple of shotguns, a Webley revolver, Lanchester smg and Thorncrofts antique blunderbuss. But what they lacked for in firepower, they more than made up for in liquid courage. Sgt Wilson led the way, wiping out an assault by the 5th Jägers on his position. His Lanchester glowing red from continual use. Capt Mainwaring and the 4 remaining members of the cricket team clung on desperately to the south of Wilsons position but the firepower of the Panzer IV shelling them proved too much, eventually one round found it mark killing all the cricketers and wounding Mainwaring. But the position remained in British hands…….just. Next the Germans tried attacking Rotherfield Stores with 60+ troops from opposite sides of the shop. Despite brave resistance the handful of Women’s Institute members and the surviving American regulars could not contend with the sheer weight of numbers amassed against them and after a few minutes the desperate singing of “Jerusalem” ended.

Meanwhile to the North West, Earl Thorncroft still engaged the Panzer III shelling his position. Despite being in full view of its 3.7cm gun and machine guns, not one hit registered, leaving many to comment on his charmed life and whether he had entered into a not so Christian pact when he had been stationed in Ceylon. Only one route remained open to the church for the Germans now. If the villagers could hold them off, victory would be theirs. And so began the final assault. Doctor Greystone and Drayden Fox armed with shotguns fired at anything that moved through the shattered Burne-Jones window.

St Deny's Burne-Jones window, repaired  after the War.

St Deny’s Burne-Jones window, repaired after the War.

While Featherlake and Pike armed with a handful of empty bottles took up position by the blasted door entrance. As the Germans rushed inside, Featherlake once more entered into violent hand to hand combat. Fox provided what covering fire he could although Featherlake took a bayonet wound to her ribs. Blood pouring from her gown she fought on unrelenting screaming in a banshee like wail “My teachers…….my sweet sweet teachers”. Then almost as suddenly as it had begun and at the very moment that the defenders looked about to be overwhelmed, the Germans began to retreat as they lost heart. About 30 minutes later the American reinforcements that had been promised after Fox’s radio message earlier began to arrive in their Willy’s jeeps.

Rotherfield after the fighting. Taken from Bank House the Home Guard HQ looking toward Rotherfield Stores

Rotherfield after the fighting. Taken from Bank House the Home Guard HQ looking toward Rotherfield Stores, with Kings Arms pub in foreground.

They were greeted by just 9 survivors who had participated in the battle. Capt Mainwaring (inj), Sgt Wilson (inj), Cpl Jones (inj), Pte’s Godfrey & Pike (both inj), Lord Thorncroft (inj), Doctor Greystone, Ms Featherlake (inj) & the redoubtable Drayden Fox.

Went_the_Day_Well_PosterNext day, Fox penned  “The village that would not die” eventually making its way to the silver screen as Ealing Studio’s ” Went the Day Well?” Closely followed by Remembrance Anthem “The Great Seal” (see link below) placing firmly Rotherfield into British folklore.


Post game student assessment – British Tactical Victory – Score +109, Grade (C) – Average, student displayed acceptable leadership and tactical skills for the module. 

IMG_3382 (800x600)As night fell, the attacking forces knew that failure to capture the village before dawn would be a huge set back to their invasion plans potentially allowing the British to counter-attack from a position of strength. Mustering for a final concerted all-out effort, nearly 200 troops from 4 Regiments, with armour support from the 18 Leichte Panzer Regt and a Panzer IV Ausf. D from Schwere Panzer Abteilung 4 commenced their assault.

Panzer IV Ausf. D advancing toward Horsegrove Lane prior to entering the village.

Panzer IV Ausf. D advancing toward Horsegrove Lane.

All that stood in their way was motley crew of defenders, Earl Thorncroft, Headmistress Ms Featherlake, Reverend Barnstaple, journalist Drayden Fox, Doctor Greystone, Captain Mainwaring, Sgt Wilson (wounded) Cpl Jones (wounded) and Pte Pike (wounded) in/around the church with a wounded Pte Godfrey unable to reach them. Rotherfield Stores was also still defended by a handful of the Women’s Institute Amazon Shooting Club and a shot up squad of green American regulars who had arrived before Tunbridge Wells fell.

It was at this moment that dastardly fifth column agent “Chaplin” chose to reveal himself. As the Germans commenced their attack suddenly from behind the pulpit, none other than trusted village vicar the Reverend Barnstaple removed a concealed German Mauser pistol from under his vestments and opened fire on the church Featherlake and Pike.

TRAITOR - Agent Chaplin none other the Reverend Mortimer Barnstaple

TRAITOR – Agent Chaplin, The Reverend Mortimer Barnstaple

Only these 2 had managed to get into the church as Barnstaple had locked the door minutes before. A bitter life or death struggle ensued, when suddenly the Burne-Jones window shattered as a shell from an advancing German tank exploded outside. The vicar, distracted for a few seconds with tears running down his cheek and shouting hysterically “Oh the humanity” failed to notice Featherlake launching a hymn book towards him.  The book struck him squarely in the chest. Knocked off balance he slipped, cracking the back of his head on the shards of broken glass. His body immediately went limp. Agent Chaplin the Reverend Mortimer Barnstaple was dead.  Only after the fighting was the true nature of his treachery uncovered when an inventory of equipment was checked which showed that all the anti-tank weapons had been removed from the crypt (later discovered in a pig pen in Bletchinglye lane).  Also Pike’s Thompson smg and the Bren gun were both discovered to have been sabotaged and rendered useless if anyone had attempted to use them. So ended Barnstaple’s treachery but the battle for the church was far from over.  The final instalment tomorrow.

IMG_3381 (800x600)2000hrs – As spearhead units from 18th Leichte Panzer Regt began to arrive, the defenders realised that they had no anti-tank weapons available.  Capt Mainwaring announced Plan “Charlie” was to be implemented immediately ordering his surviving Home Guard troops to retreat back to the church perimeter in a “collapsing bag” style defence. When told of the arrival of German tanks, Pte Pike was reported to have uttered “What the hell are we supposed to use, harsh language?” His outburst resulting in him being put on a charge on the spot for insubordination.

A Panzer III ausf F with infantry support advancing on the church

A Panzer III ausf F with infantry support advancing on the church

Seeing the courage of the troops around him waver, The Manor House’s Lord Thorncroft displaying skills learned as a former Officer in the Royal Sussex Regt and armed with the very same blunderbuss he had used to kill a tiger during a hunting party in Ceylon in 1927 engaged the armour approaching the church from the West single handedly. Although unable to disable it, he managed to halt its advance. As the net closed in the fighting became more desperate with casualties being inflicted on both sides.

Tactical situation map discovered in the church after the fighting had stopped

Tactical situation map reflecting the moment of the arrival of German armour from the West and just before the Paratroops captured the south western corner of the church grounds. Discovered in the church after the fighting had stopped.

In the South West corner, the last remaining troops from the East Kents were eliminated as Paratroops from the bank entered the church grounds. Mechanic James Arnold and chief Chaplin suspect Arthur Pendrake were also killed in the waning hours of sunlight.

St Deny's church from the exact position in the south-west reached by German troops before nightfall.

St Deny’s church from the exact position in the south-west reached by German troops before nightfall.

Now the villagers braced themselves for the final attack.

Taken seconds after the Germans entered SW Motor's garage, Featherlake detonated the hidden fougasse mine.  Foreground Sgt Wilson surveys the carnage

Taken seconds after the Germans entered SW Motor’s garage, Featherlake detonated the hidden fougasse mine. Foreground Sgt Wilson runs past one of the burning cars, the garage completely gone

1900hrs – As the unmistakeable sound of armoured tracks approached the village, remnants of the East Kent’s launched a final desperate counter attack holding the German tanks and infantry reinforcements at bay for a vital hour  before being swept away. It was just the respite needed by the villagers to regroup. IMG_3589 (800x600)First, as advance units of the 5th Jäger regt. entered the seemingly deserted SW Motors garage, head teacher Featherlake detonated the fougasse mine she and Arnold had planted earlier.  2 squads of German infantry immediately vanished, in a nightmare scene reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno as they were engulfed in flame and collapsing masonry. The teachers had been avenged.

To paraphrase Hippocrates, “Desperate times calls for desperate measures” and when Antipodean Journo Drayden Fox (who had steadfastly refused to use a weapon) stood up in the Rotherfield Stores shop and uttered his immortal words “Bollocks to this mate” the wounded of the Women’s Institute thought he was about to run away.  Not so, armed with just his trusty typewriter and a handful of 2hb staedtler pencils he charged towards the German held positions outside the pub.

Drayden Fox's Remington - Before use as a weapon against the enemy

Drayden Fox’s Remington – Before use as a weapon against the enemy

A tirade of colourful colonial language ringing in their ears, the German troops were routed as Fox put his trusty Remington to a use never originally conceived of. He had also opened an escape route for Pendrake and Tanner who had been cut off in the Kings Arms pub. Tragically,  Landlady Tanner was hit in the head by a snipers bullet in shortly after. The status of Chaplin suspect Bank Manager Pendrake remained unknown.

The scene of Fox's heroics. Taken from Rotherfield Stores, this street was single handedly cleared of Germans by the typewriter equipped reporter.

The scene of Fox’s heroics. Taken from Rotherfield Stores, this street was single handedly cleared of Germans by the typewriter equipped reporter.

For this selfless act of bravery Fox would be awarded the George Cross.

Spurred on by this courageous act, Pte Godfrey and the surviving cricket team members charged a group of Germans from the 20th PzGren Regt (who were attempting to infiltrate the ruins of the SW Motors garages). With accurate covering fire from Sgt Wilson’s Lanchester smg they inflicted more casualties. Godfrey himself kept on fighting despite being wounded.

At the Police Station, the last remaining G.I.’s defending the roadblock were finally eliminated when the were outflanked although the Germans were slow to exploit the position. The Village just needed to hold out for one more hour.



A force to be reckoned with - The teachers and breakfast school club combat unit sadly no more

A force to be reckoned with – The teachers and breakfast school club combat unit, sadly no more

1800hrs – With news that Otto Skorzeny’s commando’s had captured the Royal family morale took a blow, but the British bulldog spirit refused to give in. Headmistress Featherlake and Daisy Woods patched up their differences for the common good and returned to the action. In the nick of time as Jones had succumbed to his wounds defending the High st. German troops engaged now numbered over 150 and inevitably their superior firepower was beginning to tell. First the familiar reassuring sound of the Vickers mg fell silent as the Sussex Hunt were finally eliminated as an effective combat force. Then tragically the teachers and breakfast school club of Rotherfield Primary school who had been fighting a truly epic battle in the ruins of the cricket pavilion were overrun and wiped out, but not before inflicting grievous casualties on the enemy. The situation was beginning to look hopeless. More desperate news followed as first the farm hands defending the school were annihilated, then the 2 lovers Reynolds and Woods fighting on different sides of the village were both killed fighting to the last. Wood’s final words to Reynolds “I’m not scared of dying, all I’m scared of is living without you” would never come to pass.

SCENES OF SACRIFICE Left – Rotherfield Primary School where the farm hands met their doom, Right – High St, Reynolds’ body discovered at the bus stop just behind the telegraph pole

IMG_3352 (800x600)IMG_3486 (800x600)

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.

Just as it appeared the village was being defeneded not without some skill, a disturbing incident occered jarring the confidence of the very soul of the villagers.  Headmistress Ms. Featherlake and glamourous farm hand and village tease Daisy Woods had not spoken since the young student walked out of school to “chase her dream” and take up with bad boy Reynolds. Featherlake viewed it as a personal betrayal from one of her most brightest students. “The slap cut across the sound of gunfire” SW Motors mechanic James Arnold was heard to say as the 2 set about each other in a cat fight of the most unseemly manner. Woods was already under suspicion after her miraculous escape from the Germans early on in the barn. This event just added fuel to the fire.

It was a particularly disappointing turn of events as the German appeared to be getting desparate with half the day already gone. News of their flagship the Scharnhorst being sunk by mines while manoeuvring into Folkestone harbour was having an adverse effect on morale as it would inevitably delay the arrival of reinforcements.  This added to the tenacity of the defence was beginning to show.  Pte Godfrey who had moved to Hornshurst Woods arrived in the nick of time to despatch a small german patrol moving toward the village.

Sherrifs Lane, the scene of heavy loss to the Germans as they were caught in a crossfire between the hedgerows

Sherrifs Lane, the scene of heavy German loss as they were caught in a crossfire between Reynolds and the American regulars

Reynolds and the troops from the USEF exacted a heavy toll on a group of paratroops attempting to enter the village from Sheriffs Lane although they still managed hold a small foothold and account for a couple of the American defenders.

Back on the West side Rotherfield Stores’ Edith Finlay had taken over the defence of the South stream. The Germans sensing a reduction in the firepower levelled against them launched another attack. Expending all her remaining bullets, Finlay despatched another 4 germans before being overwhelmed. Another tragic loss and the school drive was now in German hands. Fierce hand to hand fighting continued in the cricket pavilion where Home Guard Pte Fraser was also killed in action.

At the surgery, Doctor Greystone managed to patch up the farm hands and Pte Pike who had been injured earlier on but the list of people requiring medical attention was reaching critical point.

With 3 German Regts now closing in on the village (7th Falschirmjager, 5th Jager & 1st Infantiere) assaults were simultaneously launched from 3 sides involving over 100 troops. The bulk still came from the West but in the South, Reynolds and Thorncroft ably defended their sectors inflicting casualties although Thorncroft was wounded.

From the relatively quiet East side, the Rotherfield Womens Institute Amazons Shooting club reported over 25 paratroops moving towards their position at the road block by the Police Stn. Urgent calls were sent to the church for Mainwaring to release more small arms to allow this group to defend themselves adequately.  Nearby, Rotherfield Primary School Head Ms. Featherlake had been working with James Arnold of SW Motors burying a large device under the main road near the garage. Arnold telling villagers nearby rather cryptically “Its ARMED.” What exactly was armed would remain a secret for the time being.  The adjacent Surgery was now full with wounded Home Guard and villagers, Doctor Greystone having to send for extra supplies of bandages and pain killers from the Pharmacy on the High St.

Home Guard volunteer Sgt Wilson - Knocked the enemy for 6 as they tried to cross the South stream

Home Guard volunteer Sgt Wilson – Knocked the enemy for 6 as they tried to cross the South stream

The main action still took place in the West and North with Sgt Wilson wiping out a flank attempt over the South stream and the East Kent’s holding out in the School outnumbered by more than 7 to 1.

Up by the cricket pavilion Pte Fraser shot down a few Germans advancing from the bowls club.  The surviving members of the cricket club equipped with just their bats were engaged in a life or death struggle of hand to hand combat and just as it looked that they would be overwhelmed, Pte Godfrey (Home Guard) who had been secreted behind the score board let fly with an accurate volley of Mackeson Milk Stout bottles causing the Germans to retreat in disarray. In the adjacent orchard the Teachers avenged the loss of the pub regulars by eliminating the last few troops in the orchard.

The village was still predominantly in British hands with half the day gone. But the list of wounded was increasing at a worrying rate and reports of heavier enemy troop build up meant the battle was still in the balance.

IMG_3377 (800x600) As midday approached, events took a sinister turn, First Capt Mainwaring was warned that there was now strong evidence to support the fact that one of the villagers was in league with the Germans and acting as a fifth columnist. At present unidentified, he/she was accordingly codenamed “Chaplin.” As if that wasn’t enough a 3rd German light infantry division the 1st Infantiere was reported approaching from the hitherto relatively quiet Eastern sector while the paratroops of 7FJ and infantry of 5J continued a heavy build up in the North West. Lord Thorncroft of the Manor House and poacher Brendan Murphy alias Reynolds appeared to be ruled out of the list of Chaplin suspects as they put their differences aside to fight the common enemy. putting to flight the German troops who had accounted for Home Guard volunteer Sponge in Hornshurst Wood.

Rotherfield school drive approach from the German position. Here over 50  German troops from 7FJ & 5J were involved in heavy fighting with a handful of East Kent regulars, the East Sussex Hunt putting the Vickers to full effect and the redoubtable Mrs Finlay.

Rotherfield school drive approach from the German position. Here over 50 German troops from 7FJ & 5J were involved in heavy fighting with a handful of East Kent regulars, the East Sussex Hunt putting the Vickers to full effect and the redoubtable Mrs Finlay.

On the west side of the village, heavy fighting ensued by the school, the drive approaching it and the apple orchard to the north. Both sides inflicted and took casualties in the course of the fighting but after another hour the school was still in possession of the villagers. The Vickers mg effectively put to use once more by the Sussex Hunt. To the North, Pte Fraser (cricket pavilion) and the Teachers & pub regulars ably led by the Breakfast club staff armed with shotguns, test tubes of acid, pool cues and darts continued to engage paratroops in the Orchard. Then disaster struck as the pub regulars fuelled by one pint of Harveys Best bitter too many, became too emboldened and leaving the relative safety of the Kings Arms, charged the enemy. In a matter of seconds they were cut down enmasse, a salutary tale if ever there was one concerning the negative effects of alcohol.

As the Germans concentrated their assault from the West with a feint from the North, Policeman Sgt Drake defending the bridge at Town Row Green kept the Germans at bay until his ammunition ran out. Reinforcements in the guise of the East Kent’s based at Crowborough Camp rushed to his aid but sadly it was in vain as Drake was overwhelmed becoming the first known British named casualty of the battle as well as allowing the Germans to capture the strategically important bridge.

The relentless pressure was beginning to tell as Aussie reporter Drayden Fox and a number of the surrounded farm hands joined Walker as walking wounded. The Farm Hands however managed to break out after eliminating the paratroopers who had pinned them down from the South.

Rotherfield cricket pitch - German troops had attempted to  cross from the far side before being stopped in their tracks after the firestorm unleashed on them by Cpl Jones  proficient use of DeGaulle cocktails

Rotherfield cricket pitch – German troops had attempted to cross from the far side before being stopped in their tracks after the firestorm unleashed on them by Cpl Jones proficient use of DeGaulle cocktails. The white building in the distance, the pavilion, scene of Pendrake’s robust defence and vicious hand to hand fighting.

As Bank Manager Arthur Pendrake galvanised the cricket team into a cohesive force from the pavilion, Home Guard volunteer Cpl Jones was covering the cricket pitch, armed with just a crate of DeGaulle cocktails (petrol & flammable spirit based bottles) he spied a couple of squads advancing over the pitch. In a sharp engagement he managed to stop the german advance in its tracks although the cricket wicket was irreparably damaged (much to Arthur Pendrake’s despair). Vicious hand to hand combat ensued around the cricket pavilion and the orchard to the West where more paratroopers were attempting to advance from. Despite inflicting some casualties on the Germans, a number of the cricket team and pub regulars were killed or wounded, unable to continue fighting. Bank Manager Pendrake leading the cricket team and Daisy Woods were also both wounded but fortunately able to continue. A fair exchange for holding onto the pavilion and keeping it free of enemy for another hour.pic661440_md[1]

To the South, 5th Jäger regt units moved out from the Copper Kettle newsagents but were cut down when caught in the open by a withering crossfire from the East Sussex Hunt equipped with the Vickers M.G. Sadly Pte Sponge patrolling Hornshurst Woods  was killed when about 10 troops from the 5th Jagers rushed his position.

The Germans now had a firm foothold on the East of the village outskirts but with the pubs and schoolhouse still in villagers hands the situation was far from hopeless despite an increasing number of wounded villagers.

IMG_3375 (800x600) Clement weather had assisted the debarkation of German troops with the 5th Jager Regt landing at Cuckmere Haven and racing towards the developing battle in Rotherfield. Meanwhile the German paratroopers began to increase the pressure on the western side of the village.  This time 5 squads attempted to cross the stream from the south side concentrating their fire on Walkers improvised defence position.  Despite wounding him he remained at his post until relieved by village Bobby Sgt Drake.


Entrance to Eridge Lane from the School Drive. Here, German Paratroopers crossed the road in the open only for a number to be cut down by the valiant Edith Finlay

The paratroopers were however unaware that Rotherfield Stores owner, widower Edith Finlay had taken up position covering the entrance to Eridge Lane. Caught in the open she couldn’t miss using her beloved husbands old Webley service revolver and very soon the lane was littered with dead and dying germans. Drake using a Springfield caused more grievous casualties to another group of Paratroopers attempting to flank the bridge from the north. For the moment the Germans were being kept in check but then the arrival of advance elements of the 5th Jager Regt threatened to upset the apple cart. Entering the village outskirts unopposed through the marshy waterlogged fields of Horsegrove Farm they successfully cut off the farm hands who were holed up in the barn observing the southern approach. Notorious “brass” Daisy Woods fortuitously managed to extricate herself moments before they arrived.

0900-1000hrs. The tactical situation from of the eastern side. 7th FJ and 5th J elements advance threatening to cut off the farm hands in the Old barn and flanking the School Drive. cutting off the farm hands in the process

0900-1000hrs. The tactical situation on the eastern side. 7FJ and 5J elements advance threatening to cut off the farm hands in the old barn and flanking the School Drive.

The farms hands would have to decide whether to make a stand or break out. Almost cut off they were unaware of the morale boosting news that a squad of regular allied infantry had entered the village from the East to support the inhabitants. The 1st United States Expeditionary Force (who were billeted in Tunbridge Wells) had arrived.


Vigilant Home Guard Volunteer J. Walker was the first to spot the first German units approaching the village.

Vigilant Home Guard Volunteer J. Walker. First to spot German paratroopers approaching the village.

As news reached the Home Guard of an imminent invasion the church bells of St Deny’s church began to peel.  Local residents were warned to be extra vigilant especially for anything suspicious such as German paratroopers disguised as nuns. Capt. Mainwaring took on the role of organising the village defence. A temporary sandbagged pillbox style defence was erected covering the western approaches from the village side of the bridge. Small arms equipment stockpiled in the church crypt began to be issued until it was discovered that some of the weapons had apparently been tampered with rendering a large amount unfit for use.  With the added complication of the possibility of a Fifth Columnist at large in the Parish, tension reached fever pitch.

IMG_3373 (800x600)At 0600 hours, LDV Pte J.Walker patrolling the bridge noticed movement by the North stream.  Studying the area closely he spotted what were later identified as 4 German Paratroopers about to attempt to cross the stream. Walker fired a warning shot over their heads and challenged them but there was no reply except for an increased urgency in their actions. At this point Walker decided that they were indeed enemy troops and he began lay down a suppressing fire in their general direction. The first shots in the battle of Rotherfield had been fired.

IMG_3370 (800x600)Meanwhile, nearby in the Kings Arms and Catts Inn pubs, a motley group of pub regulars who had been sleeping soundly within from the previous nights lock-ins (celebrating or commiserating themselves on what could be the last hours of freedom for the village) were galvanised into action. Arming themselves with an assortment of improvised weapons and still full of dutch courage from the previous nights drinking they made their way down Station road before recklessly charging over the stream taking the German troops by surprise thanks to the ferocity of their attack. Within seconds, 4 German paratroopers lay dead or dying. Checking their papers, they were identified as reconnaissance paratroopers from an Aufklärer unit of the 7th Falschirmjäger Regt.

The war had arrived in Rotherfield.

The day before the storm - Rotherfield's St Deny's church basking in the sunshine

The day before the storm – Rotherfield’s St Deny’s church tower basking in the sunshine

After the allied debacle in the Battle of France and the subsequent Luftwaffe’s victory over the RAF during the aerial campaign against England, German e-boats are spotted laying down a carpet of mines over 2 broad areas in the English Channel. Inside the cordon, merchant ships, ferries, barges and other German naval vessels are seen preparing to embark troops while Junkers Ju-52 tri-motor transport aircraft are concentrated on Northern French airfields. Operation Seelöwe is about to begin!

Leaflets delivered to all residents in Southern England a few weeks earlier.outh

Leaflets delivered to all residents in Southern England a few weeks before the actual invasion.

Meanwhile on English soil Churchill delivers a grim speech in the House of Commons All his (Hitler’s) preparations for invasion on a great scale are steadily going forward. Several hundreds of self-propelled barges are moving down the coasts of Europe from the German and Dutch harbours to the ports of northern France, from Dunkirk to Brest, and beyond Brest to the French harbours in the Bay of Biscay”

For the residents of sleepy Rotherfield a storm approaches dressed in Feldgrau and spitting 7.92mm rounds. Will they and Mainwaring’s Home Guard be up to the job and able to defend this green and pleasant land?

Watch this space

Haut Couture 15C style - Milanese Harness

Haut Couture 15C style – Milanese Harness

I really REALLY need a Squire. No one told me all those years ago about the dark contract you enter into when purchasing a suit of armour. Having last worn this almost 2 years to the day it had been sitting silently in my front room gathering no more than a few specks of dust………or so I thought.  Last week I suddenly found myself volunteered to don the old harness one more time for the local village fiesta/fayre.

I didn’t think much about it at the time, apart from wondering whether it would still fit (these metal beasts have a habit of shrinking when not worn a short chap by the name of Rumplestiltkin told me a while back………. ) So when I started to unpack the bits and pieces imagine the shock when suddenly confronted with that horrible realisation and one I had naively forgotten about.  Yes ye olde Mr Rust had been working his evil magic through 5 stone/30 Kilo’s of a young Agnetha Faltscog equivalent in armour terms.

Starting on Saturday and just finishing today Wednesday as we speak, its taken I don’t know how much metal polish and elbow grease to bring it back to its former glory. I’ve even lost the fingerprints on my index finger for my troubles. Still looking at it now. it was worth it.

Sallet & bevor - more than a passing resemblance to a Cylon? You frakking better believe it!

Sallet & bevor – more than a passing resemblance to a Cylon? You frakking better believe it!

We’ll use the old ways……….SPEED OF HORSE!