William Chandler

Extract from William Chandler’s Scrapbook 1949 held at West Sussex Records Office reference: AM 361/1

THE 1939-45 WAR

The local Civil Defence organisation was already in being when war broke out, wardens, first-aid workers etc. having had some training. At first arrangements were made to call them out from their homes if necessary, but on 6th Sept. 1940 a Warden’s and First-Aid Post was manned for the first time at “Sunnyside” with Mr. Eric Marshall in charge and four wardens to assist. The local Auxiliary Fire Service was also helping to man the post and a warden and fireman were on duty each night from 10.0p.m. (officially 22.00 hours).

The A.F.S. were provided with a two-man manual pump, which, with all its equipment, was kept in a grocer’s van all night in readiness for a call. Mr. Gerald Toynbee was Leading Fireman.

At this time also a large and enthusiastic body of unofficial fire-watchers was formed, who were on duty in couples from 6.0p.m. until the wardens took over. This was long before the official scheme of Fire-Guards was introduced, so that Barnham had its organisation all ready when the time came to form groups of Fire-Guards under street leaders.

Many men joined the Local Defence Volunteers, later to be known as the Home Guard, and on the whole Barnham Civil Defence and others were as well organised as any village in the area.

On 7th March 1941 Barnham had its first “incident” when an H.E. bomb fell south of the canal and a number of incendiaries in Barnham Street and Hill Lane. No damage was done. At this time the Warden’s Post was having a busy time, with several “warnings” every night and very little sleep for anyone, two firemen being on duty with the warden.

After the A.F.S. became the National Fire Service the men were equipped with a motor trailer pump. Later the Eastergate Station was disbanded and a number of the men joined Barnham. The fire station was removed to Parsonage Farm and a full crew in charge of a Leading Fireman was on duty every night.

On 23rd June 1944 a V.I. (“doodlebug”) fell and exploded 500 west of Barnham Court on the old canal-bank. There were no casualties but considerable damage to greenhouses, ceilings, windows, etc.

The Parish Hall was occupied by the military, including Canadians and Americans, from 1940 to 1945and a canteen was opened at the Vicarage.

Of the considerable number of men and women who joined the Forces, one man only was killed, Private E. J. Tompkins, R.A.M.C. A tablet to his memory was dedicated in the church on 19th June 1949.