War Time, Abbots Bromley

There must be more to tell…?

From the Parish Council records, there are some glimpses into the years of the second world war but there must be many other details still known to those living in the area and your contributions would be welcome.

HMS Wheatland

Admiralty certificate

During “Warship Week” in March 1942 the parish adopted HMS Wheatland and, in recognition of this, received an imposing commemorative certificate from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.

HMS Wheatland was one of thirty-six Type II Hunt Class destroyers built between 1940 and 1942. She was named after the Shropshire Wheatland Hunt. Launched on 7th June 1941 and commissioned on 3rd November that same year, Wheatland was finally scrapped in September 1959 after existing only as a hulk from 1955 onwards. Displacing 1050 tons and with a crew of 168, HMS Wheatland was capable of 25 knots.

HMS Wheatland saw great deal of active service – the Arctic 1942, North Africa 1942-43, Sicily 1943, Mediterranean 1943, Salerno 1943, Adriatic 1944. Some particular examples of the actions she saw are included below.

On 14th September 1942 Wheatland was involved with HMS Faulknor and Tartar in the resuce of three pilots of Sea Hurricanes from HMS Avenger who had been shot down by anti-aircraft fire from ships.

On 17th February 1943, together with HMS Easton, Wheatland sank the Italian submarine Asteria off Bougie. Then on 23rd of the same month, she was part of a group of three destroyers that attacked and sank U-443 – a U boat responsible for the sinking of four allied vessels. On 1st November 1944 with Avon Vale, she sank a former Italian torpedo boat TA-20 and two escorts between Fiume and Zara.

Apart from numerous convoy duties, HMS Wheatland is also recorded as taking part in escorting the fleet for the D-Day invasion.

Enemy Bombing in 1940

Air raid letter

On 30th August 1940, the Sub-controller wrote from Uttoxeter Urban District Council offices to commend the Civil Defence Services of Abbots Bromley for their “splendid turnout” and “efficiency” during a period of enemy bombingearlier that week. The letter was addressed to Rev AR Ladell, Chief Warden at Abbots Bromley.

The text of the letter is reproduced below and a copy of the original can be viewed at full size in by clicking on the image.

There does not seem to be any firm consensus on why Abbots Bromley should have been bombed, and a number of theories have been advanced including:

  • The bombers were unable to locate their intended targets in Coventry/Birmingham and were just unloading their bombs before the journey back to their bases in Germany
  • The real target was the ammunition depot at Fauld
  • The real target was the Rolls-Royce aero engine factories in Derby

Perhaps you can add further details?

Dear Sir,

I feel that I must set on record my appreciation of the splendid turn out of the Wardens’ service during the period of the enemy bombing at Abbots Bromley on Sunday / Monday the 25th and 26th insts.

I am informed that all the services worked splendidly and the efficiency and resource of the Auxiliary Fire Service Squad was particularly worthy of praise.

Would you please accept on behalf of the whole of the Abbots Bromley A.R.P. and A.F.S. Personnel and convey to them my sincere appreciation of their bearing during an emergency.

They maintained to the utmost the ever increasing good record of the Civil Defence Service throughout the country of which I think we may all feel justly proud. I am very happy that our local services have confirmed my opinion that their devotion to duty would be shown at its best during raid conditions.

Yours faithfully,