Barton Mills

Barton Mills in the 1940’s, with the exception of a few isolated houses, was a fairly compact village which lies in the angle formed by the River Lark which is on the North-east and the A11 which lies to the South and South-east. The population in 1943 was 475.

The only Civil and Military defence schemes / correspondence re the Invasion Committee in the file at the Suffolk Records Office are from 1943.

The defence scheme, drawn up in January 1943, notes probable enemy action to be:

  • Bombing by day and night, perhaps by gas, with the objective of dislocating communications, or even driving the population in flight along the roads.
  • Parachutists might be dropped near the village.
  • An initial enemy success might bring the actual fighting to the locality.
    • The main task of the Civil and Military (Home Guard) authorities was to keep open routes for the use of the Military. If necessary this would take priority on other tasks such as saving life in bombed buildings.

      The object of the scheme was to ensure the co-ordinated action by the various Civil authorities, especially should the village become isolated, and to co-ordinate the community in the event of any call from the Military authorities for assistance.

      On “Stand To” the Home Guard would notify the Committee Chairman, who would then notify other members of the Invasion Committee.

      On “Action Stations” the Invasion Committee would open it’s headquarters, which was adjacent to the Home Guard Headquarters at The Mill. However as this was located within the Fort, it was later decided to move the Civil HQ to the ARP HQ at Barton Hall.

      During Phase A of the Invasion (Heavy bombing) all members of the Committee not involved with their respective services would report to the HQ.

      During Phase B (Invasion not in the vicinity) and Phase C (Hostilities in the vicinity) the Committee would remain in close contact with the Chairman.

      The agreed Alarm signals were as follows:

      • Whistle for incediary bombs.
      • Church bells, to be sounded on the authority of the Home Guard or Police to give warning of enemy parachutists or other air-borne troops.
      • Rattle to warn of gas and “Gas Clear” to be given by shouting “Gas clear” and ringing hand bells.
        • The role of the various Civil authorities was as follows:

          Police:

          Barton Mills had no Regular or full time Auxiliary Police but did have four Special Constables.
          Their role was to:

          • Control traffic
          • Enforce road restrictions.
          • Immobilisation of vehicles.
          • Posting special notices on the official notice board, which near the Bull Inn.
            • ARP Wardens:

              Barton Mills had four Wardens, with their HQ at Barton Hall. Their duties were reporting of incidents, guiding of rescue parties, roping off craters and contaminated areas and giving assistance in clearing people from dangerous areas.

              First Aid Point:

              First Aid would be combined with the Home Guard arrangements as in line with National policy. There were 12 people available for First Aid plus four stretcher bearers. The First Aid Point was at Barton Hall, which could accommodate approx 20 casualties. Five beds were available for serious cases.

              Fire Service:

              There was no Fire Service in Barton Mills, the nearest being based at Mildenhall. Arrangements were made to raise a Fire Fighting squad of six men.

              Food organizer:

              Emergency Food Stores were located at four locations (local residents as there was no Distributing Shops). An emergency slaughter house was to be arranged and milk supplies were described as being plentiful. There was no bakery in Barton Mills, bread to come from Mildenhall in the case of emergency. In the case of “Action Stations” it was proposed to make preparations for bread to be baked at Barton Mills.

              There were plenty of wells in the village for emergency drinking water. Residents were to make mutual arrangements for cooking in an emergency.

              Rest Centers / Billeting Officer:

              There was no rest center but Mrs Last, Hall Farm was the billeting officer in the case of emergency or refugees arriving.

              Burials were to be at the graveyard and adjoining allotments. The Mortuary was to be located at The Doon. Men not involved in any other Civil Defence duties were expected to form the burial squads.

              The Military scheme was based around defending strong points in the vicinity of four road blocks. The road blocks were located at “Five Ways”, Tuddenham Road, Church Road and The Bull Inn. The Home Guard garrison numbered 55 men which would be reinforced by 20 men from Red Lodge on “Action Stations”. In the event of invasion the local inhabitants in the vicinity of the strong points would be evacuated and would be expected to make their own arrangements for alternative accommodation. Communal feeding for the Home Guard was to be at The Bull Inn.

              Most homes had Anderson or Morrison shelters. The Wardens were also to recruit volunteers to dig slit trenches for people unable to do so themselves. People with gardens would be asked to dig their own. Fuel (coal and wood) was stated to be plentiful.

              The County Authorities requested that an alternative First Aid Post should be arranged in the event of Barton Hall becoming unavailable. It was agreed to use “The Grange” if such a circumstance arose.

              The Committee resolved to deliver a letter to each household to set out the position on “Action stations”. The letter is reproduced below:

              “ IMPORTANT NOTICE

              Mr   ‘ s Household

              INSTRUCTIONS, issued by the Parish Invasion Committee, in the event of invasion.

              Read all through carefully, and keep for reference at a later date. The responsibility rests with you, do not hinder by loss of instructions.

              THE OFFICIAL NOTICE BOARD, is on the black door adjoining the Bell Inn. Make yourself aquainted with it and watch for any information and orders thereon.

              For the DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD, the village is divided into four districts. It is arranged that yous should collect your food from     Mr    's. Take a bag, basket, jug, basin, cup etc, as nothing is wrapped. It will save much trouble if you pay for your food at the time of collection. If you haven’t the money at the time you must pay later. Assist your neighbor in this matter, especially if old, infirm or ill.

              THE TIME TO COLLECT FOOD will be stated on the OFFICIAL BOARD if and when the occasion arises.

              It is essential that all persons should carry their IDENTITY CARDS with them, or wear a label bearing name and number upon it.

              When the Home Guard is called out you must take your GAS MASK with you wherever you go.

              The number of persons in your household is already known, if any alterations you must tell a Special Constable or Warden at once.

              The Parish Invasion Committee is not out to frighten you. It is hoped no attempt at invasion will take place, but it may, and if it does, it will be robbed of half of its terrors if everyone knows just what to do.”

                Above: Map of Barton Mills and approximated position of Home Guard Road Blocks.

              Reference:

              Barton Mills Invasion Committee papers, SRO

Barton Mills

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