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The Ash Tree

by weymouthlibrary

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Bob Giblett
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 February 2005

Planting the new Ash tree in 1992

Myself, brother and father all joined the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers). We were all employed on a farm. Father became Platoon Ltn't. Our front room of the farmhouse looked more like an ammunition dump - we had boxes of 12 bore cartridges, crates of molotov cocktails, anti-tank granades plus boxes of Mills Bombs. A bit later into 1941 we also had Canadian Ross Rifles issued to the Platoon. Our Platoon consisted of one Officer, four Sergeants and approximately 30 volunteers, our C.O was a retired Naval Admiral who was recalled to the Navy and was subsequently lost at sea on his first convoy duty. His place was taken by a General, General Ramsey, who remained as C.O for the war years. I did normal farm work through the spring and summer months and caught rabbits through the winter.
I vividly remember one September afternoon I was lying on the ground on my back with one arm thrust into a rabbit burrow, when I heard what I thought was thunder in the distance and on looking around I could see the sky was almost black with planes flying from the South on their way to the Midlands and maybe North of that. I gathered my equipment together and hastened home to check if any telephone messages had arrived from the Home Guard Headquarters. We were put on 1st Alert and went to our lookout post and kept lookout for parachutists from the attacking German Forces. Our post was a cross roads on the A37 Dorchester/Yeovil Road which has been re-aligned. There was a large Ash tree in the original hedgrow and our Sergeant, who was also the village carpenter, decorator and Undertaker, built a wooden hut in the forks of the tree, access was a by a ladder.
A new Ash tree has been planted as near to the original site as possible, this was planted by myself and an ex Sergeant with the usual Press and Media attention. The new tree has a memorial stone nearby! The new Ash tree was planted in 1992 and provided by villagers of Sydding St Nicholas who used the original tree as a landmark in foggy weather.
I volunteered to join the Navy in August 1941 and was in the Navy within three weeks. After training at HMS Collingwood - Fareham. I joined Cruisers which patrolled the South Atlantic, and two and a half years in the Far East, Java and Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands.

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