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15 October 2014
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"War Years at Royden Hall Farm, Shardlow, Derbys."

by nottinghamcsv

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Jeffrey Clifton, James Clifton, Charles Clifton, Joan Clifton (Brothers and sister), William Clifton and Elsie Clifton (parents).
Location of story: 
Shardow, Derbyshire.
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
13 September 2005

"This story was submitted to the People's War site by CSV/BBC Radio Nottingham on behalf of Jeffrey Clifton with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions."

We came to Royden Hall Farm, Shardlow as a family in 1928. The farm ran up the side of the Trent and Mersey canal and on the other side of the canal was Dickenson's Nurseries, it was one of the longest in the country, 22 acres under glass. As the crow flies the farm was only about 100 yards away. The Ministry of Defence built a decoy like a railway station at a small hamlet called Ambaston, about 1 and a half miles north of Shardlow. This put the greenhouses and the decoy in the same relationship as Rolls Royce and Derby Railway Station, it was called "Operation Star Fish", it was to fool the German bombers and it worked as it provoked a concentrated air attack on the greenhouses. The first wave of planes dropped loads of incendiary bombs setting fires all over the area including our farm. We were putting fires out in the stack-yard and hedges, fortunately no fire bombs dropped on the house. We found the only way to put the bombs out was to bury them. My brother James noticed 2 fire bombs had dropped under a wooden wagon (we were still using horses as tractors had not completely taken over), with Les haywood (our cowman) we ran down to put them out and then the heavy bombers moved in. James heard the scream of a bomb dropping, knowing Les was rather deaf he pushed him to the ground, Les said "you daft sod, what did you do that for ", just as he said that , the bomb exploded, the ground trembled and they were covered in soil and a crater appeared about 30ft across just about 60 yards away, we could hear explosions to the South of the farm, which meant bombs were dropping in the big meadow (40 acres) night pasture for our 70 strong milking herd. We waited until dawn to fetch the cows in for milking, not knowing what we would find. There were 7, 35 ft craters and hundreds of fire bombs, all it did was frighten the cows and milk production was down 50%. I was the longest night I have ever spent, I had just left school and I had never been so terrified before or since. We had an auxillary fire engine pulled by an old Vauxhall, it was kept at 'Shardlow Malt Extract Co.' manned by a local team. We went over to see our neighbours Mr. and Mrs. Wardrop of Field Farm, they had a lot of damage done to their farm, they were as near to the greenhouses as we were. They had a lorry loaded with manure, a bomb dropped under it and the explosion lifted it over a small cowshed and dropped it in the middle of Aston Lane. They had a lot of damage done to the buildings, so we felt very lucky only to have broken windows and sludge everywhere after a bomb dropped in the brook 40 yards away.

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