In the fall of 1944, I Company of the 393rd Regiment was located in the little country village of Piddlehinton, which was north of Dorchester on the southern coast of England. We were there most of October and were housed in red brick buildings and given straw for our sleeping mattresses. This had been a German prisoner of war camp and they moved the prisoners out to make room for us. What is ironic is that those of us in ASTP had had our infantry basic training at Camp Maxey in the summer of 1943, in another prisoner of war camp called “Jap Trap,” so Piddlehinton was our second housing in a former prisoner camp.
In 1984, my wife and I went to England to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and first drove down to Piddlehinton. I was shocked to see people living in our old barracks, 40 years after we were there. They must have been quite poor. I think they worked in Dorchester.
Several years ago there was an article in the Checkerboard asking for donations to refurbish a memorial in Piddlehinton. It only took me several years to make my donation recently.
Enclosed is the letter I received from E. Gay R. Hanbury, treasurer of the church shown in the accompanying photo.
G. Allan Nelson I/393
2651 W 106th Loop Unit B
Denver CO 80234
As treasurer of Piddlehinton Church, I am writing to thank you very much indeed for the generous gift you sent to the Parish Council last month, which Geoff Lord’s widow has passed on to me.
It was a really lovely surprise and brought back happy memories of the visit the 99th Division made in 1994, when we put up a tent on the grounds of the Old Rectory and had quite a party. Did you come to that special weekend? My husband served in the 15th/19th Hussars (now the Light Dragoons) for nearly 40 years and latterly he worked closely with the Americans in the field of laser safety, so we are delighted to keep in touch with our allies.
Piddlehinton Camp has now been converted into quite a number of light industrial units renovating the old huts – anything from satellite dishes to mending horse rugs. It has evolved over the years and it is probably part of its success that the developer didn’t rush into converting lots of buildings at once, but just worked on a few at a time when there was money available.
The main restoration work on the War Memorial has indeed been done, organized by a committee from the church, although there are minor repairs from time to time. There is a service and wreaths are laid there on Remembrance Sunday every November and as it is in the center of the village, it is an important part of it – somewhere where people meet each other and chat and the school children wait for the school bus each morning. How lucky we are to live in this lovely part of rural England!
At the next meeting of our council later this month, I will ask them what they would like done with your money. I know our church warden was bitterly complaining about the lights on the Christmas tree and as treasurer, I told her it was too expensive to buy more. So I know which way she will be voting.
E. Gay R. Hanbury
Secretary/Treasurer of Piddlehinton PCC