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15 October 2014
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Sussex Home Guard

by gloinf

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Jim Honeysett
Location of story: 
Herstmonceux East Sussex
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
08 February 2005

Wartling Home Guard Platoon on the march

My name is Jim Honeysett; I am 88 years old and was born in Wheelwright Cottage Wartling, near Herstmonceux East Sussex, on April 14 1916,

I was one of three sons born to a wheelwright named Jesse Honeysett.

At the outbreak 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 enroll, most of which came with their own shotguns, bearing in mind that it was a farming community.

Out of those thirty men, four of them came 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 No.1 Platoon 20 Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment.

One of our main duties was to keep watch for enemy activity in our area.

There was a lookout point at Rocklands 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 the war most farms were allotted some German Prisoners 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 of the prisoners of war that we were working with on the farm, one man in particular, his name was Carl, I’m afraid I can’t remember his surname, he was based a Norman Hurst near Battle, East Sussex, he would have been collected every day with four other prisoners and brought to our farm to work.

Carl 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, and was shot down in the Mediterranean Sea, and was in the sea 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 particular day they wished they hadn’t, because one was shot down by ack’ack fire.

Two of us found the pilot and took him prisoner; I think he was pleased to see us and to still be alive.

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 war 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, it would not be allowed to-day!

We celebrated VE day in Herstmonceux with a big bonfire in the middle of the road outside 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 Carl; 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, 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 often speak of him and wonder what happened to him after the war.

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