Breckland

1977 , Sudbury (Suffolk)

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An interview about the use of the Norfolk Breckland as training terrain.

Hugh Sykes Davies and Major General Talbot, Commanding Officer of the 54th Division T.A., East Anglia discuss the army training area at Stanford in the Norfolk Breckland. Major General Talbot holds up a map showing the extent of Breckland, the area used for training purposes during World War II and the comparatively small area that was used in the early 1960s. He explains the need for training on this type of terrain, indeed any terrain different from the army's usual training areas on open moor land. He emphasises the difficulty of giving up any more land. Hugh Sykes Davies thinks that all of this is perfectly reasonable and asks the Major General about an area near East Wretton of interest to naturalists. This, explains the Major General, cannot be relinquished for safety reasons.

Featured Buildings

Stanford Barracks

Keywords

Territory; Wartime

Other Places

Stanford

Background Information

Villagers Ordered To Leave. One day in July, 1942, a resident of Tottington stood by the roadside and watched a column of lorries and carts loaded with people and furniture pass by. It occurred to her that she might be watching a unique 20th century event. English people on English soil forced to leave their homes. ... She wondered what Hitler might pay for a photograph of the scene. ... The creation of the Battleground Interview. Stanford Battle Area, through the dictates of war, forced 1000 people from their homes and emptied nearly 20,000 acres.On June 19th, the EDP, curbed by war time censorship, announced that several East Anglian villages were to be evacuated. The following day it reported that the residents had gathered (at the smithy) for a meeting (at Tottington.) Among the speakers was Lt. General Anderson, Commander in Chief, Eastern Command. According to a brief note filed in the EDP library, he explained that everyone had to leave by July 20th. Alive to calls for a Second Front, the cabinet had decided the land was needed for live-firing training. This is the most unpleasant task of my army career, he said. But the harvest would be gathered, accommodation arranged and compensation paid. The report concluded that the speeches were heard in silence, then applauded. In reality ... there was a sense of shock, then widespread anger.Suspicions that the area might not be handed back were confirmed in 1947. The Council For The Preservation Of Rural England asked the War Department for a map of its holdings in the Brecks. By mistake ... it was sent a map indicating proposals to enlarge the area ... by taking in another 10,000 acres at Hilborough, Thompson and Bridgham. That same year, Norfolk County Council's Review of Facts documented the extent of the initial requisitions. The War Department ... had taken 19,000 acres including the villages of West Tofts, Stanford and Tottington and the hamlets of Langford and Sturston, - some 150 houses and cottages, three schools, two pubs, and 34 miles of highway. The Report concluded; The owners of property ... were promised by the regional commissioner that the area would be restored to them after the war. Three whole villages have been deprived of existence, and in terms of human happiness, apart from all economic considerations, this is a serious loss. Forty years on, the occasional coachload of former residents gazes at the patches of spring flowers, where once there were cottage gardens. The villages, now mostly humps and hollows and bits of rubble, slowly slide beneath the vegetation. Only the sheep, the Churches and the troops remain. (Eastern Daily Press, Wednesday, May 5, 1982.)

Manifestations

Breckland

  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV150476
    Canonical Identifier
    TB 699
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    Umatic tape
    Dimension
    Identifier
    Modification Date
    23/07/2008
    Parts
    Reference
    673762
  • Barcode
    INV??1879
    Canonical Identifier
    VP-1125
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Identifier
    Modification Date
    25/06/2021
    Parts
    Reference
    563013
  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV??0471
    Canonical Identifier
    A-91
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    16mm film
    Identifier
    Image Polarity
    positive
    Modification Date
    25/06/2021
    Parts
    Reference
    560958

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