KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  -- RESEARCH    Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

History of Ash and Ridley from Earliest Records to 1957
Compiled by Dorothy G. Meager on behalf of Ash and Ridley Women's Institute           Page 75

These webpages are designed to be viewed with the screen resolution set at 800 x 600 and text size at normal. HOW TO

Second World War 1939 - 1945

In 1937 when the political situation was grave and a Civil Defence Corps was brought into being, the late Mr Harry Benjamin Nicholls was elected Head Warden of Ash and Ridley, in which post he remained until Peace was declared in 1945. Several other people of the Villages also joined the Corps about the same time.
   A number of evacuees were sent from London immediately before the outbreak of hostilities, but they mostly returned home or were transferred as this was proved to be a dangerous area.
   For a short time the Warden’s Post was at "Hillside", Billett Hill, then it was transferred to "High Leigh" on the Main Road, and "Dairy Farm", Hodsoll Street was set up as a subsidiary post with Mr A.R. Lucas in charge.
   All the Civilian War Services were well supported, Air Raid Wardens, First Aid Team, Fire Watchers, Women’s Voluntary Services, a good Special Constable Force, and a strong Home Guard Company which was combined with neighbouring villages. The Headquarters of the First Aid Service and the Home Guard was at Ash Manor.
   Air Raid Wardens and Fire Watchers were under the control of Mr Harry Benjamin Nicholls, Mr C.A. Prime was in charge of the First Aid Team, Mrs Daisy Goodwin controlled the Women’s Voluntary Services at first but later Mrs M.M. Ewbank took charge. Towards the end of the War Mrs G. Simmons took over. Mr F. Goodwin was head of the Special Constables. The late Major E.S. Dalton of West Yoke was for a time Commander of the Home Guard, he was also a Government Factory Inspector whose job it was to visit factories with a view to speeding up production and eliminating unnecessary processes.
   The first shock to the Village was the news that the destroyer H.M.S. "Exmouth" had been torpedoed in the North Sea with the loss of all hands and that Captain R.S. Benson, D.S.O. its Commander, whose home was at Ash Manor, had gone down with his ship.
   We Had front seats for the Battle of Britain, including the famous Sunday when the air seemed full of parachutes, and the Home Guard turned out to arrest the survivors. One parachute failed to open and the German Airman landed in the "White Swan" field badly injured.

   One night incendiary bombs fell like rain but no great damage was caused, the Fire Watchers were very active. In the morning the lane by Chapel Wood was strewn with unexploded incendiaries.
   From our five hundred feet up we looked towards London and saw the glow of fires, recalling the occasion when we had watched the Crystal Palace go up in flames. The nights turned into fantastic Brocks benefits by the huge candelabra flares hanging in the sky.
   During the Battle of Britain a number of Women’s Auxiliary Air Force Sergeants were billeted in Ash. They were engaged in Radar work in Kingsdown.
   Bombs of every description fell over both Parishes causing widespread damage to buildings, mostly of a minor nature, including both Ash and Ridley Churches and the Ebenezer Chapel. Crops and overhead electric cables also suffered. No fewer than thirtynine bombs fell in Great Barn field.
   There were two major incidents involving death and injury, one was during the Battle of Britain when a high explosive bomb fell at the back of the Council Houses, killing a child, Margaret J. Sharman, and injuring several of the inhabitants. The other was during the "Flying Bomb" (V.I.), or as it was commonly called "Doodle Bug" period, when one hit "Haven Manor" killing Mrs Victor James. The Manor was entirely destroyed.
   Throughout the grim period when flying bombs were coming over, barrage balloons covered the whole area from the Thames Estuary southwards as far as Sevenoaks. One night while on duty Mr H.B. Nicholls saw eleven V.I.s coming over at the same time, obviously fired from eleven different stations.
   On the night of January 29th 1944 phosphorus incendiary bombs fell over a wide area. The worst damage done was at Ash Place Farm where four stacks of straw in the yard were set on fire. The local Fire Watch worked here until fire engines arrived. The engines were there all night and managed to keep the flames from the house and outhouses.
   The Rockets (V2’s) were the next scare, but none fell very close although some fell in the Dartford Rural Area.

Previous Page          Back to Contents Page          Next Page

Back to Ash next Ridley - Members & others Researches

For details about the advantages of membership of the Kent Archaeological Society   click here

Back to Members & others Researches      Back to Research         Back to Homepage

Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
© Kent Archaeological Society 28th August 2007 

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs.  Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so
 that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details to