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Isfield Army Camp - Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations
June 3, 2014 at 7:42 pm by v
World War Two Isfield Army Camp : I have looked everywhere on the internet to find out about the exact history of this Abandoned and Derelict Isfield Army Camp during World War Two without much success, I can only find snippets within pages of local business websites but I do believe it was occupied by the Canadian Infantry Corps during World War Two.
On one website “Acers” are mentioned which tells me that the Isfield Army Camp was occupied by the Canadian Infantry Corps personnel who were undergoing training or who had just finished and were awaiting orders to join a specific Unit. But “Acer” also refers to the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve. So enlighten me please.
From what I can make out and believe, The original site during the war consisted of an Admin/Guard block, An Officers mess, Nissen Style Workshop/Storage huts (Not Hangers), Nissen Style ordinary rank huts, Parade Ground, Incinerator, Water Tower and also its own branch line from Isfield Railway Station.
The branch line served the purpose of transporting the Canadian infantry, artillery and equipment with ease to their holding point in the UK before going onto battle. The branch line was also used for the disembarkment and the embarkment of POWs that were transported to it and ordered to work in the surrounding fields.
One can only imagine village life and the Laughing Fish Pub opposite with around 3.500 18-25 yr old bored, homesick, testosterone high guys at a loose end during their time out. It would appear that the Isfield Army Camp played a very major role during World War Two, with its role in storage, training and transportation. Many thanks to the MOD in furnishing me with info! I took only photos and left only my footprints.
Below is an article dated 29th August 2014 which I found and pinched from my local rag, Namely the Sussex Express
“During World War II, Sussex housed a vast number of army camps that held many thousands of troops who were waiting, sometimes for years, to go into action. These army camps were dotted all over the place in and around locations such as Crowborough, Maresfield, Buxted and Uckfield.
The little village of Isfield (about halfway between Lewes and Uckfield) itself had its very own camp a short distance from the Laughing Fish pub. Isfield’s camp was populated in the main by Canadian soldiers and was one of the better appointed facilities in that there was the village pub plus a train station close by.
In 1940 a rail extension was built from the down line on Isfield’s platform 2 which extended into the army camp so that troops and vehicles could get in and out quickly and efficiently. The siding was first used in earnest to move British and French troops evacuated from Dunkirk in late May/early June 1940.
When the Canadians later arrived in force the village pub inevitably became a very popular rendevous. But young men and plentiful beer – then as now – could be a potent mix. One evening the Laughing Fish landlord, Fred Pullinger, had a dispute with a group of soldiers who were causing trouble in the pub, and, as was his perogative, he ordered them out. After the pub had closed for the night some of the group returned in a drunken state and planted a small amount of explosives that blew up the front porch!
The next day the landlord visited the army camp to complain. That afternoon the commanding officer marched the group responsible over to the pub where he ordered the troops to repair the damage. The story goes that as a result of their repair work the front of the Laughing Fish to this day looks slightly out of kilter with the rest of the building.
As the war progressed the train line through Isfield for a while became one of the busiest routes in Britain. This was due to it being one of only four major rail routes to the south coast and could link directly with Newhaven, a staging port for the armada that allowed the Allies to invade Occupied France in June 1944.
Once the Allied forces were ashore in Normandy the port became a vital conduit for reinforcements and supplies. The civilian inhabitants of Isfield could only guess at the military contents of the hundreds of wagons passing through their peaceful village by day and night.
Post-war the Isfield camp was maintained for housing National Service soldiers who would carry out training up on the Ashdown Forest. A few years later the training camp junction and spur to the army camp were taken up and the line returned to its original two-track section”
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