- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Jim Honeysett.Bert Honeysett, Cecil Honeysett and POW Karl.
- Location of story:
- Wartling East Sussex
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 January 2005
My name is Jim Honeysett, I am 88 years old, and was born in Wheelwright Cottage Wartling, near Herstmonceux East Sussex, on 14th April 1916. I was one of three sons born to a wheelwright named Jesse Honeysett.
At the out break of the Second World War I was working at Cowden Farm in Tilley Lane. After having been refused enlistment, I became a member of the Local Defence Volunteers, which later became known as the Home Guard.
About thirty men arrived at the local police station that night in Windmill Hill to enrol, most of which came with their own shot guns, bearing in mind that it was a farming community. Out of those thirty men, four of them were from my own family at Wartling.
I was eventually made a Sergeant, my father was a Staff Sergeant, and my eldest brother Bert was a Corporal and my youngest brother Cecil was a Lance Corporal.
We were the No1 Platoon 20th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. One of our main duties was to keep a watch for enemy activity in our area. There was a lookout point at Rockland’s Farm, which was the highest point in the Wartling Parish, and it looked out over the Pevensey marshes.
During the day I worked on the farm, doing things like tractor driving and other farm duties. Because of the shortage of farm workers during war, most farms were allotted some German Prisoner of War to work on the land, so it was our job to show them what to do and keep an eye on them. Our evenings were spent on duty, often patrolling the Radar Station on Pevensey marshes.
We formed a fairly good relationship with most prisoners of war that we were working with on the farm, but one man in particular, and his name was Karl. I can’t remember his surname, but he was based at Norman Hurst near Battle, East Sussex, and he would have been collected every day with four other prisoners and brought to our farm to work.
Karl had belonged to a glider club before the war, so automatically he became a pilot in the German Air force. I know he flew Junkers during the war, but was shot down in the Mediterranean Sea, and was there for two days before being picked up by a French boat, and eventually brought to England.
German planes used to fly over the Pevensey Marsh very low, but on one day they wished they hadn’t, because one was shot down by acc’ac fire. Two of us found the pilot and took him prisoner, but I actually think he was pleased to see us and to still be a live.
We were used by the regular army to help with their training because the marshes were difficult to cover if you didn’t know where you were going, but it was very exciting for us to be involved in that sort of operation.
In our back garden we had a 9.2 Howitzer gun, which was a first world gun, designed to fire shells out to sea, but it was never used thank goodness. My father’s workshop was used to store the ammunition for it, frightening to know that he used to work in there with all those shells in the back of his workshop, would never be allowed today!
We celebrated V E day in Herstmonceux with a big bonfire in the middle of the road outside of the Woolpack Pub. The noise and excitement of that day I shall never forget.
When I got married in 1947 at Wartling Church, I noticed Karl; our prisoner of war had come to see us get married. I was moved by this and asked him if he would come to our reception as well, for which he did for a little while. Soon after this, prisoners of war started returning back to their home countries, so I never saw him after that, but I always talk about him and wonder what ever happened to him after the war.
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