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Flitton Parish Invasion Committee

It is nice to be able to add articles from users of the service to the Community Archive pages. This piece was written by Margaret Butt in the Flitton Parish Newsletter

Although to us, this sounds like a combination of Dad’s Army and the meetings in the Vicar of Dibley, parish invasion committees were very serious in their preparations for a German invasion. Every village and town in the land presumably had their own committees who were all ready to defend their country if necessary.

The Minutes book of the Parish Invasion Committee from 1942 to when it was disbanded in November 1944

  • F. Gohmn, Chairman
  • N. G. Horne
  • A. Palmer, Vice Chairman
  • L. R. Harris, Food Organizer
  • G. Coles, ARP
  • H. E. Emerton, Police
  • Lieut. G. Elliott, Greenfield Home Guard
  • F. G. Horne, Flitton
  • T. E. Willingham, Flitton
  • G.Clark
  • R. Taylor, Greenfield
  • A. Palmer Snr., Greenfield
  • Mrs P.Lyne, Greenfield
  • Mr.P.Lyne, Greenfield
  • Harry Stanley, Wardhedges
  • G. N. Anstee, Flitton
  • P. G. Greenwood, Silsoe
  • C. D. L. Fraser, Sub Controller of 110 Dunstable Street, Ampthill
  • S.Caulcutt, Secretary

Joined May 1942:

  • Mr E. Roberts, Fire Service
  • Mrs E. Roberts, Wardhedges
  • Mrs A. Catlin, WVS
  • Mr. Robinson, Ampthill

This committee met every two months in the Flitton Parish Church Rooms to discuss plans in the event of a German invasion.

A few entries:

24th February 1942

A quantity of new sand bags had been delivered for the public to renew any worn out bags. It was recommended that the sandbags be placed on a couple of bricks or a box rather than the floor to stop them perishing.

24th April 1942

The schoolmaster at Flitton and the headmistress at Greenfield were to be asked to allow the children to copy the sketches of Slit Trenches as shown on the circular sent by the ARP Controller. The children were to take them home and get their parents interested. The slit trenches wee considered to be good protection against dive bombing and artillery fire. The circular showed how they were to be made and how to select a suitable place in the garden 15 feet at least from the nearest building in readiness for action.

22nd May 1942

A gas mask test had been held in the village. Only 50% of holdfers attended but the general state of the gas masks was good.

A discussion was held about a disused bakehouse . The committee could not acquire possession of it but a letter was to be sent to the ARP Controller to ask him to get the oven into working order or to advise the committee on how they could do this. Mr Palmer reported on a brick built oven in Greenfield measuring 9 feet 6 inches by 8 feet 10 inches. This was a good brick furnace with an iron door and only slight repairs were needed. There was a good store room over it. It was owned by Mr. Brittain of Steppingley and the tenant was Mrs. Smart of Greenfield.

The sketches by the children of slit trenches had been completed and sent home.

19th June 1942

Eric Roberts was elected as Fire Service Officer. The inventory of the Flitton Fire Appliance and Equipment was:

  • 8 galvanised pails
  • 1 ceiling hook
  • 1 30 foot ladder
  • 1 pick
  • 1 spade
  • 1 crowbar
  • a standpipe shaft
  • 1 V thread
  • 1 standpipe head double
  • 1 stirrup pump (by 1943, this had increased to 4 stirrup pumps)

24th July 1942

Six ladies volunteered to operate emergency cooking – Mrs. Emerton and Mrs. Willingham of Flitton, Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Downing of Wardhedges , Mrs. Osborn and Mrs. Parker of Greenfield.

A supply of No.2 Gas Ointment was held by the ARP but the committee wanted every household to have some.

The Home Guard agreed to dig a slit trench to show villagers how to do it.

The field next to The Bell in Greenfield was agreed to be used as an emergency burial ground as well as the cemetery at Flitton.

26th November 1942

The tenant had agreed that repairs to the bakehouse oven at Greenfield could go ahead. The committee decided to ask Mr. Tookey, the baker at Pulloxhill for advice.

Fundraising was needed so a Whist Drive at Greenfield School will take place on Nov 27th with a future Whist Drive at the School Room, Flitton.

18th December 1942

The Greenfield Whist Drive raised £11-17-1.

Mr. Tookey estimated that the bakehouse would cost at least £100 to repair so the committee agreed to look at ways of lowering the cost.

The names of the committee have to be posted on village boards together with other notices. It was pointed out that there were no suitable noticeboards in the village to do this. Sites for the boards were decided on – next to the telephone kiosk in Flitton and opposite the garage in Greenfield [still there!] A letter asking for 2 boards to be supplied and erected was to be sent to the ARP County Controller

29th January 1943

Most meetings had someone resign from the committee and new members voted on. One of these is intriguing. At this meeting, a letter from Mr. P. Lines was read wishing to resign. Mr. Lines was at the meeting and was asked to reconsider. Mr. Lines said that Mr. Fraser knew all about it but Mr. Fraser was unable to explain. I wonder what that was all about?

The Greenfield noticeboard had been erected and the Flitton one was to be put up in the next few days.

The Flitton Whist Drive had raised £13-1-3d

26th February 1943

23 members of the committee were present at this meeting where Mr. Fraser gave a detailed talk on various practice events using large maps and models. The members applauded Mr. Fraser on his hard work. The exercise date was to be April 4th 1943. The heads of all services were to go to a meeting at Maulden to receive instructions.

Emergency Meeting 2nd April 1943

27 members attended for a full discussion of the exercise to be carried out on April 4th. Because the chairman could not attend the exercise and his time was becoming more limited, he resigned and Mr. A. Palmer was elected as the new chairman. Captain Elliot explained and discussed the duties of all the services. Official orders and times were checked

30th April 1943

The exercise was discussed with mistakes noted, improvements suggested etc and much valuable information was obtained. All services were praised by the ARP Controller especially the fire service.

Exercises were carried out on several occasions and they were taken very seriously indeed. It is clear that an invasion was expected and preparations were carried out. Everyone was on alert. Sadly, details of the exercises are not included in the minutes book so we don’t know what was done except that all branches of services took part. The Home Guard were very important in the organisation of exercises.

By mid 1944, the threat of invasion had declined. The June meeting in 1944 was cancelled as being unnecessary and the next one took place on November 21st 1944.

A letter from the Clerk of the County Council was read out stating that the continuance of the Invasion Committee was no longer necessary. Items bought by the committee were offered to members at cost and together with other money, it was agreed that assets of £40-2.2 be paid to the Parish Council

At the back of the book, is a list of members for the Victory Celebrations Committee dated March 28th 1946. Although no information has been written down about what they did, it is very noticeable that it more or less matches up with the Invasion Committee.