May 8, 2020|

Ron Parkins – Rookesbury Park Gardens

Ron lived through the war with his parents and sister at The Bothy, Rookesbury Park Gardens, off Hundred Acres Road.  He was 12 years old in 1939, and attended secondary school in Harrison Road, Fareham, which had about 500 boys and girls from the surrounding area.  He travelled to and from school by bus, run by Glider Coaches.  In his spare time he travelled all around the area by bicycle, and was able to visit many interesting ‘incidents’.

Ron remembers the village much as we know it today physically, but had the character of a small garrison.

  • There was an above-surface air raid shelter in the Square
  • There was a searchlight battery on Wickham Common and Bofors anti-aircraft (AA) guns in Black Cottage Lane and Blind Lane, and a heavy AA battery on Shedfield Common
  • The local Home Guard HQ was in the Star Inn (now Greens)
  • Forge garage was taken over as the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) transport workshop
  • RASCC (Army and Auxiliary territorial services (ATS) took over Rookesbury Park from 1941, the school having been evacuated to Devon; the shed still standing near the fishing pond in the park dates from the RASCC occupation
  • Beverley was taken over as the Royal Naval & Royal Marine maternity home
  • All houses in the village were used for billeting of soldiers, nurses or evacuees, and the officers of the garrison were billeted in the King’s Head and Thorne’s Cottage.

Ron has memories of certain incidents – some of which he was able to visit on his bicycle:

  • A high-explosive (HE) bomb landed near Wilmots
  • A land mine dropped in Rookesbury garden which brought down the ceiling in his home
    A land mine landed in Bere Forest, near the Liberty
  • On January 14th 1941 he clearly saw in the moonlight 19 German bombers flying overhead on their way to bomb Portsmouth
  • A RAF Hurricane crash-landed at Prickett’s Hill, the pilot had bailed out and landed in a tree near the Roebuck whence he was rescued by a local using his ladder; the pilot was accommodated overnight in the King’s Head and Ron remembers seeing him emerging in the Square the following morning
  • A RAF spitfire crash-landed in the ‘station’ field – near Northfields Farm – it was a classic ‘wheels up’ landing and the plane was removed in 24 hours
  • Prior to D-day massive army camps were set up in Rookesbury Park and the Liberty where there was also a fuel depot; armour was parked along the A32, which was closed to civilian traffic
  • A troop-carrying glider crashed at Warnford during practice for the invasion with a large loss of life.
  • A V1 ‘doodlebug’ landed at Buishop’s Wood on Newman’s Hill (near Mislingford) and the site can be identified to this day.

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