Recollections of a Soldier at Hothfield at the end of the War

Photo:Corporal F.A.Bridge the Worcestershire Regt.

Corporal F.A.Bridge the Worcestershire Regt.

Photo:The army camp after the Council used it for housing

The army camp after the Council used it for housing

Seen from Cades Road in the early 1950s

Photo:Soldiers at the camp used Hothfield Station

Soldiers at the camp used Hothfield Station

This ticket is from 1959 when it was just a Halt

Huts, train station and Victory celebrations on Hothfield Common

By Arthur Bridge, formerly of the Worcestershire Regt.

Dear Chris,

For a long period in 1945 I was an 18year old Corporal in 9th Btn. the Worcestershire Regt. on Hothfield Common.

The 9th Worcestershire were situated on the left hand side of the road and on the right hand side was a Btn. of the Royal Warwickshires.  So you had 2btns – approx 1200 infantry soldiers camped there.

I say camped but from a Worcestershire point of view it was a fine posting.  The Nissen Huts were in good condition and all paths and in camp roadways immaculate.  There was a very good bath area, a fine Mess Hall and always plenty of hot water.

The only drawback was the toilets!!!  They consisted of pits, planks and canvas.  I suppose they may had [sic] been but I never remember them being emptied.  Things must have grown very well there for years after!

I remember my time at Hothfield fondly the countryside was lovely.  Ashford in those days was a pleasant market town but is probably very much bigger now.

What will surely interest you is your lovely little station.  It was in those days Hothfield Halt.  Quite a few of the stopping trains from Charing Cross called there and to us it was an important station.  This was especially so on a Sunday night when we returned from a 24hour or 48 hour leave.  More important it was an open station after a certain time at night.  This was important because lots of us on 3 or 4 shillings per day had either no ticket or ones that had run our far short of Hothfield.

It is indeed a great pity that the picture of the “HALT” is not bigger as it brings back wonderful memories. Indeed I had met a lovely young lady from the area who sadly I found out a few months ago died at a comparatively young age.

The front of the camp – on the road was a fine sight with grass well cut and the Regt. badge and motto (FIRM) picked out in white stones and flowers.  There was also a tall flagpole and the flag was ‘bugled’ up at reveille and lowed [sic] at lights out.  We had some very fine buglers and had you lived there then you maybe would have not welcomed it at 6:30 in the morning.

I was of course there on May 8th which was V.E. Day.  Most of us were given a 24hour pass.  A lot of us travelled to London (back early hours to the Halt).  The rest went into Ashford.

I will close with a memory that may well interest you, although many of your older members may have similar memories.  On a bright spring day a V1 rocket went chugging over as I stood on the edge of the square (the Germans at this stage the V2 being much worse than the V1).  Then one of our fighters came up behind it and blew it out of the sky, one that did not reach London!  We all cheered and it has stayed in my memory all these years.

They started running down the 9th Btn that autumn after VJ day and I was transferred to become a platoon Sgt. In the South Staffs Regt in Hertfordshire.  The last time I saw the colours of the 9th was in Worcester Cathedral some years ago together with a book naming all of us who served – sixty three years ago it was raised over Hothfield.

I am afraid these days that my eyesight has all but gone (I am actually registered blind) and I can therefore write but not read back please therefore excuse my errors.

My best regards to you and the society


Arthur Bridge (F.A.Bridge) or as I was in my Hothfield years – 14763282 Corporal F.A.Bridge the Worcestershire Regt.

Post script by the editor:  Arthur tried to trace the young lady he met from the Cudworth Road area of Ashford.  Following an article in the local newpaper her son Rob got in contact (not Arthur's child!) and he wasn't far from where Arthur had met his mother.  Rob and Arthur struck up a relationship but sadly Arthur lost Rob's details - if Rob is reading this, please get in touch via:


This page was added by Chris Rogers on 25/10/2013.
Comments about this page

On 21st June 2014 Arthur wrote another letter to the History Society wherein he said: "I hope that the Society continues to flourish and I am proud if my contribution has helped in some small way.  If you should find yourself outdoors on one of this summer's evenings then pause and listen carefully.  You may hear drifting plaintively across the common the strains of our buglar from years ago playing 'Lights Out' and you can think of the lights disappearing from all the Nissen huts.  You may even imagine the green flag of the 9th Worcestershires with its silver emblem being slowly lowered from the flagpole.  If you're feeling even more nostalgic then listen harder and you may hear the sad sad sounds of him sounding 'The Last Post'.  We can then think of the thousands of Worcesters and Warwicks who served on Hothfield Common and alas are no longer with us - a sad but lovely thought".

Thank you to Arthur for his moving thoughts.

By Sheila Flynn
On 06/07/2014

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