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Honiton Railway Tunnel Guard

by csvdevon

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Sgt John Sage
Location of story: 
Luppitt, Honiton, Devon
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 January 2006

no4 (luppitt) Platoon, DCoy 19th (Seaton) Bn Devon Home Guard

This story concerns the duties of no4 (Luppitt) Platoon, D.Coy, 19th (Seaton) Bn Devon Home Guard

We were detailed to guard the area around the railway tunnel mouth on Saturday nights between April 24th and July 10th 1944. Each of three squads had a bell tent for rest time, with one squad on duty, and two off, throughout the night.

The gangers hut was the centre of communications, and use by the NCO’s who kept a continual link between the guard posts at varying distances from the tunnel mouth. Telephonists, runners and first aid parties were ready for action if required; and at Heathfield Camp was a regular army reserve. We were pleased to sometimes receive a few lumps of coal from the 9pm slow goods train. Our Company Commander tried unsuccessfully one night to approach but was challenged at the first out-post. An incident was reported one dark night about 2.30am. The distant guards could hear a peculiar noise, maybe someone trying to get through the fence. Their Cpl. was informed, should he ‘call out’ all the troops, or investigate? He chose the latter course, and slowly crept along the fence line under increasing tension. He presently made out a large shape in the gloom, and with great relief could see that it was the farmer’s horse rubbing its backside on a fence post.

On another occasion there was a commotion and the duty Sgt — not the writer — went out to investigate, and found that men were crawling out from under the canvas of one of the tents; the central post had been pushed through the apex. They were not too happy about it. Had someone overtightned the guy ropes? When accommodation adjustments had been made, the rest of a troubled night was spent by the Sgt putting his thoughts into verse.

It happened on a Saturday night,
The guy’s of no2 were tight,
When to the Sgt’s vision there,
Appeared a funny sight so rare.
For no2 had come unstuck
The boys still floundering in the muck,
As one by one they struggled free,
from underneath that canopy.
Said Sgt ‘Clear this up I must,
Who messed around and wrecked this tent’
And then said he on vengeance bent
‘Yes, I’ll get that man by heck
and when I do I’ll break his neck’
But each in turn denied the charge,
And so the culprit’s still at large.

The platoon CO later explained that he was relieved to be informed that no further action would be taken for damage to War Department property, as it was the last night we were required on that duty.

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