Canadian Troops in Fletching during the Second World War

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THIS PLAQUE IS PLACED HERE
BY THE
5TH CANADIAN LAA REGIMENT RCA
IN APPRECIATION OF THE
PRIVILEGE OF WORSHIPPING
IN THIS CHURCH
AUGUST 1942 - MARCH 1943

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5th Canadian Light Anti Aircraft Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery, were part of the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division, Based on the colour of its shoulder patch, the division became known as the "Mighty Maroon Machine.
The War Diaries are available
online. Selected extracts from the period they were in Sheffield Park have been transcribed in monthly instalments. After periods in Colchester, Brasted in Kent, and Aldershot they moved to Sheffield Park, Sussex in early August 1942. In January 1943 they moved a short distance to Pippingford Park where they remained until the beginning of July
1 July 1943
Preparation being made for forthcoming move. Show in Recreation hut at 1900 hrs. entitled “Kiss the Boys Good-bye”.
They then moved to Ludham in Norfolk
15 August 1943
Weather fine. Special Regtl. Church Parade in Ludham Parish Church. Padre Munro displayed the altar cloth presented to the Regt. by Fletching Parish Church.
After a period at Crawley Court, Hampshire, they sailed to Italy, landing in Naples on 8th November. They were on parade in Dragoni on 31st July 1944 when King George VI made an inspection. They subsequently were in action on the
Gothic Line.
6 Jan 1945
Padre J. A. Munro was seriously wounded this afternoon while he was on his way to visit “C” and “D” tps. A piece of shrapnel hit him on his forehead just over and between the eyes. He was taken immediately to 66 British Hospital between Rimini and Riccione.
8 Jan 1945
Weather – Freezing temperature in the morning and cloudy. Snow and rain in the afternoon and evening. News from Padre Munro is much better today.
14 Jan 1945
Our Padre came back today. He has a scar of about 3 inches on his forehead above his right eye and there are about 9 stitches across. But what is bothering him the most is the loss, or rather because part of his hair has been cut to the skin, and he doesn’t like to show it. He is still in as good a humour. Good old POP!

On 28 Feb 1945 they sailed from Leghorn to Marseilles and travelled across France and Belgium to the Western Front.

1 May 1945 Groningen
The big event of the day was at 0230 hours when it was reported over the A.E.F. Broadcasting station that Adolf Hitler had died.
4 May 1945 Groningen
Weather cloudy with many showers throughout the whole day. This evening 2035 hrs. we heard over the radio the grandest news of the war. The German Army has surrendered in NW Germany, Holland, Denmark and the Frisian Islands to General Montgomery’s 2nd Army. Unbelievable but quite true.
After the announcement was made there was a big air of celebration everywhere in town. Flares, Verey lights and S/A fitted with tracer were shot in the air and the Dutch people were out in the street “en force”.
Cause of this great news there was a double issue of rum this evening.
Major Builder and the Padre are having their portraits painted by a Dutchman who lives across the street. They spend most of their time mornings and afternoons sitting.
26 June 1945 - Winschoten
Personnel of this regiment are very pleased to hear that Padre Munro has been awarded the MC for gallantry in the Italian campaign.
11 Jul 1945 - Winschoten
Col. E.T. Winslow left for England today where he will attend an investiture where he will officially receive the M.B.E. that he won while serving in Italy. Our old Padre H/Major Munro is to receive the M.C. at the same ceremony.
Aug 1942 
Aldershot
2nd August 1942

Weather – rain in morning, clear in afternoon. Unit received notice to prepare for move to Sheffield Park Sussex.
5th August
Weather – Fine. Main parties of Regiment left Salamanca Barracks Aldershot for Sheffield Park. 88 Bty. in two sections at 0650 hours and 0720 hours consisting of 33 vehicles 18 motorcycles, 163 all ranks arrived at 1130 hours. RHQ consisting of 40 all ranks 12 vehicles 10 M.Cs. departed at 1000 hours arrived at 1400 hours. 47 Bty. consisting of 190 all ranks 32 vehicles 19 motorcycles left at 1300 hours arrived at 1700 hours. 41Bty. consisting of 200 all ranks 33 vehicles and 20M.Cs, left Aldershot at 1500 hours and bivouacked east of Handley Common for the night, joining convoy of 1 Cdn.Armd,Bde., at 0630 hours 6 Aug 42 to proceed to their new area at Hove. Excellent arrangements were made by the units advance party at Sheffield Park for accommodation of personnel. All moves were made without incident. 41 Bty. are quartered in civilian houses at Hove. Remainder of regiment are quartered in nissen huts at Sheffield Park,
9th August
Weather cool with showers. R,C. Church parade held at 0930 hours in C.B.H. recreation hut. Protestant Church parade at 1000 hours in Church of St. Mary and St. Andrew at Fletching.
16th August
1000 hrs. Parade Service at Church of St Mary and St Andrew, The Vicar has kindly consented to outline the history of the Church of St Mary and St Andrew at this service.
23rd August
Weather showery. R.C. Church parade held in C.B. Highrs recreation hut at 0930 hours. Protestant Church parade held in Fletching Parish Church at 1000 hours.
24th August
41 Bty. At 1800 hrs two F.W.190 (enemy aircraft) attacked hydro and gas plant at Portslade. “A” troop on duty in position along sea front. Sgt. Murphy identified aircraft and opened fire after enemy started to machine gun target area. Sgt. Murphys’s crew fired 13 rounds and got 1 hit on E/A. Sgt. Jackson’s crew fired one round and got 1 hit on E/A. Aircraft were flying at 25ft above the sea as they approached. One E/A dropped one bomb into factory about 50 yards from Sgt. Murphy’s position. Gnr. Kenyon received slight wound in shoulder from the explosion. One E/A flew low over Bty. lines firing cannon and machine guns. 3 cannon shells hitting M.T. garage and doing slight damage to roof and 3 M/C hit by small fragments with slight damage to wind screen. Report from observers (civilian and coast guards) say plane crashed into the sea some distance out.
26th August
Weather rainy. At about 1530 hours a plane appeared to be in trouble over the camp area. It straightened out and then was seen to come down south west of Newick.
There was a dance for all ranks at Fletching School at 1900 hours.
Sept 1942 

6 September
Weather fair and warm. R.C. Church Parade at 0930 hrs. in C.B.H. lines (Recreation Hall) Protestant Church Parade in Fletching Parish Church at 1000 hrs.
13 September
Weather fine rain at night, R.C. Church Parade in C.B.H. Recreation hall at 0945 hrs. Protestant Church parade at Fletching Parish Church at 1000 hrs.
88 Bty. R,C, Church parade at 1100 hoours at R.C. Church in Carnavon Rd. Protestant Church parade at 1100 hours in St. James Church Tower Rd.
17 September
Weather mostly cloudy. Regimental soft-ball team lost to 3rd Fd. Regt. 10-4 in Hove in the first game of army play-offs. A convoy took about 150 officers and men to the game.
20 September
Weather rain. Protestants attended the Harvest Festival Church service in Fletching Parish Church at 1100 hrs. Maj. Howitt read the lesson.
27 September
Weather rain. R.C. Church parade at 0945 hrs. in Legion writing room. Protestant church parade at 1000 hrs in Fletching Parish Church.
41Bty. Guns manned as usual. Bty. Church parade 0900 hrs. to Portland Rd. Methodist Church.
30 September
88 Bty. left Sheffield Park at 1000 hrs. in convoy and arrived about 1200 hrs. afternoon. 41 Bty. moved to Sheffield Park leaving Hove at 0850 hrs.

Oct 1942 

4 October
Weather cloudy. Protestant Church parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Parish Church conducted by Capt. Munro.
11 October
Weather fine. Protestant Church parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Parish Church
18 October
Weather cloudy. Protestant Church parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Parish Church
23 October
All ranks dance at 1930 hrs. in Fletching School.
25 October
Weather cloudy with showers. Protestant Church parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Parish Church
27 October
The Recreation Hut was officially opened in the evening & a variety Tonic Show was presented by a Civilian Concert Party
31 October
Pate. Schell of 16 Ordnance Workshop killed at Newick last night apparently being hit by car.
Nov 1942 

1 November
Weather fine. Protestant Church Parade at 0900 hrs. in Recreation Hall.
2 November
Court of Inquiry on the death of Pte Schell concluded that death was caused by a motor vehicle of unknown identity and that the driver did not stop after the accident occurred.
22 November
Weather clear and cool. Protestant Church parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Parish Church
29 November
Weather cloudy and cool. Protestant Church parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Parish Church
Dec 1942 

6 December
Weather fair. Protestant Church parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Parish Church
11 December
Lt. Col. Smith, Capt. Harrison and Lieut. Bentley attended a dance to inaugurate the Officer’s Club at Ashdown Golf Club.
15 December
Weather showers. Six Officers and 173 O.R’s of the 88 Bty. proceeded by rail to Flookburgh Firing Camp, leaving Sheffield Park Station at 0510 hrs.
16 December
Weather rain, Air activity heard about 1400 hrs. in the vicinity of Newick. Later reports assert that a train at Newick was machine gunned.
20 December
Prot. Xmas Church Parade at 1000 hrs in Fletching Church. The newly formed choir sang two Xmas numbers.
At about 1440 hrs. a Flying Fortress made a forced landing between Fletching and Piltdown. It was observed by many in the camp area. Lieuts. Hamilton and O’Keefe rushed to the scene followed by other officers and men. Our Regt. Immediately put on a guard. The crew were all Americans and all but one were unharmed. He one – who was the navigator had been shot in the leg and was immediately rushed to No. 16 Cdn. General Hospital. The remainder of the crew were brought back to the Officer’s Mess and fed at 1715 hrs. and again at 2100 hours. The crew reported that they were returning from a mission to a French airport and that they were forced down due to the two right engines failing and the tail being partly shot away. The Captain and Pilot of the ship, Lieut. Barton, made an excellent job of landing the crippled craft on its belly in a very small ploughed field. They reported that their objective had been reached and successfully bombed and that in the air battles with a large force of F.W. 190s, they had accounted definitely for six enemy planes. The remaining nine of the crew stayed in our lines overnight – a very tired but thankful group.
23 December
Weather fine. The American ground crew of the Fortress left at 1230 hrs. Considerable aerial activity to and from the direction of the South Coast all afternoon. All ranks dance in Fletching School at 2000 hrs.
25 December
Weather fine. The Officers and Sergeants served dinner to the men at 1230hrs. The menu included turkey, pork and pudding. The afternoon was free. At 1800 hrs. a buffet supper was served in the Officers Mess with the sergeants as guests of the Officers. At 1730 hrs. an English party presented a concert in the Recreation Hut. After the concert, cigarettes, chocolate bars, sandwiches and beer were served to the men.
27 December
Weather cloudy. Prot. Church Parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Church. The choir sang one number.
29 December
Sixty one children of the Chailey Heritage were entertained by the Regt. in the Recreation Hut. A programme consisting of three songs by the chorus, a pantomime of Jack and the Bean Stalk, and a Magician act by Gnr. Wilson of 41 Bty. was presented. Afterwards presents were given to each child and refreshments were served. Brig. Morton visited the Rec. Hut for part of the programme.
30 December
Regimental Dance at Fletching School at 2000 hrs. for all ranks. Members of soccer team played C.B.H. (Cape Breton Highlanders) at Fletching and Bdr. Merriott suffered a fractured leg during the game.
31 December
New Years Eve dance in Officers’ Mess.
Jan 1943 

3 January
Weather fine. Protestant Church Parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Parish Church.
5 January
Weather cloudy and cold, snow during the night first snow this winter.
8 January
All ranks dance in Fletching School at 0800 hrs.
10 January
Protestant Church Parade at 1000 hrs. in Fletching Parish Church.
11 January
Weather partly cloudy. Hockey Team won Sp Gp Championship defeating 17th Field Regiment 2-1 at Brighton Arena. Received notice about 1900 hrs. of move of Regiment to Pippingford Park.
14 January
Weather rain cleared in afternoon. Moved from Sheffield Park at 0900 hrs. arrived at Pippingford Park about 0940 hrs.