Stratford St Mary

Civil Defence:

On the outbreak of War, between six and eight Special Constables and Air Raid Wardens were enrolled. The role of the Special Constables was to control / divert traffic if roads became blocked by bombing. The ARP Wardens were responsible for issuing/fitting of gas masks, enforcing the black out and carrying out night patrols to guard against incendiary bombs either falling on houses or crops.

An Invasion Committee was established in 1942 with its Committee Centre at Valley House. The ARP Wardens First Aid Point was also established at Valley House with another post at Glebe House.

A Food Controller was appointed to issue food and commandeer cattle for slaughter and also bread and milk for issue in times of emergencies. Emergency rations (tinned food) were stored at Valley House, Brookside, Greenmead and at Mr Harry Moye’s house.

In case of evacuation from other villages or towns a rest center was established at Valley House. The National Fire Service installed a Fire Engine with a car in the grounds of the Institute.

Sirens in Colchester, Ipswich, Hadleigh and Mistley could be heard in the village – some residents wanted one put up in the village but the authorities refused to do this.

The village received 80 evacuees from London at the start of the War. These comprised 40 young mothers and their children, who returned to London almost immediately and 40 Barnardo Children from Barkingside, Ilford. These stayed for almost a year when they were moved further inland due to the risk of the Coastal counties being regarded as possible invasion areas.

Home guard:

The Home Guard formed No 4 Platoon, ‘A’ Company, 6th Suffolk Battalion. Parades were held every Sunday and in the evenings on Thursday in the Institute or Valley House which became the HQ. The Home Guard also assisted in Fire Watching and night patrols.

Stratford St Mary was a Hold Up Village which would come under the command of Independent Hold Up Village East Bergholt from ‘Stand To’.

The village was fortified as follows:

• Two pillboxes, one in the hedge halfway between the Rectory and the “Anchor” Inn, the other next to the Corner House near the “Kings Arms”.
• Perimeter of barbed wire stretching from Valley House running around the bridge then on the Essex side round so as to cross the road on Gun Hill, below the “Gun” Inn.
• A strong point in the old mill with the lower windows being sandbagged.
• Four road blocks, consisting of four rows of holes with iron covers into which v shaped irons would be dropped into. One block was on the main road as it enters the village near the Rectory, one on the Higham Road as it leaves the main road, one by the Valley House wall and one at the bridge. The irons were piled on the road verges by the blocks.
• Bridge mined for demolition.
• Field work emplacements dug for machine guns.

The Home Guard eventually had quite an armoury which included:

• Four spigot mortars with three fixed pedestals at the By-pass at the Nursery Gardens facing the “Kings Arms”, one beside the road looking up Gun Hill and one at the back of a field looking over the bridge towards Stratford. The fourth was on a moveable mounting. Ammunition stocked was 120 20lb bombs and 80 14lb bombs.
• Two Northover Projectors (with 550 SIP grenades).
• Two heavy Browning machine guns and two light Browning machine guns.
• 104 land mines.
• 185 Molotoff bombs.
• 18 Sten guns.
• 300 Mills bombs.
• 100 vaned bombs for rifle cup dischargers.

Reference:
A Suffolk Village, Maj Gen L.R. Kenyon, Suffolk Press Ltd, Ipswich 1951

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