Before it is forgotten, it should be recorded that, in the early 1950's, Colkirk had its own Home Guard platoon. This was at the height of the “Cold War” during the period of the Berlin Airlift and Korean War, so presumably there was a real fear it could develop into a hot war. The Home Guard that had been stood down at the end of WW2 was reactivated. 

The platoon commander was Major  Woods who lived in the bungalow at the top of Market Hill. There was a full time clerk, (Mr White??) who lived at Foulsham.  

The office was upstairs in the old groom’s quarters of the stables at Colkirk House and the armoury was below in the old tack room. The window of the tack room was barred and a new substantial outer door was provided for the armoury. Somehow  another  rotten door leading into the coach house was simply nailed up. I don’t know whether our parents Fred and Eve Wayne were paid rent.  

I have no memory of there being parades or any training taking place there so possibly that  took place in the village hall or in other villages. The Company HQ was in the Drill Hall at Dereham. I remember being told of how they went to the ranges and that there were women members who were also doing their bit feeding the belts into the Vickers machine guns. I do also remember there being escape and evasion exercises with the HG trying to capture aircrews from local RAF stations. I think the only people they caught was Ned and I doing our own bit of scouting. 

The armoury started with about 20 x  Mk4 Lee Enfield rifles with bayonets , 10 x Sten guns and 2 Bren guns. These were later supplemented with additional SMLE rifles, Sten guns with skeleton frames and a PIAT anti-tank weapon. The weapons with a lovely oily smell were held in racks with a locked chain threaded through the trigger guards. After a year, security was heightened following IRA raids on TA centres, the bolts and breach blocks were removed and stored elsewhere (leaving very little of the Stens!). I suppose that now there is no-one left to charge. I can say that Ned and I were allowed to play with the guns, at one point they also had a Geiger counter and radiation sources, again  great fun. 

By coincidence, the same building stored some of our father’s war time leftovers. Father had been an explosives officer with the “Auxiliary Units” – the wartime “secret army”, whilst he would talk about it he was always a bit non-specific. His sergeant  kept a book shop in Fakenham, beyond that I don’t think he ever named names. One of his favourite stories was about him doing explosives training on Fakenham Race Course - as a final set piece he set  off a large charge in one of the ponds expecting it to produce an impressive column of water - it did but it was hundreds of discarded gin bottles that rained down on the students. On Father’s death Ned, (by then an army officer), and I, dug a hole in the field and discretely (if not quietly) disposed of a store of time pencils, ammunition including 12 bore single ball cartridges , pressure switches and explosives. We must have been away at school, but one day no doubt a lorry arrived and it all disappeared into history!

 Why didn’t we take photos? 

Bob W

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Extracts of letters written by Peter Bradshaw ( Rector of Colkirk 1952-58 )

about the great flood of 1953 and the great snow storm of 1955 -  provided by his children, Celia and Nigel

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