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Tollesbury - Village of the Plough and Sail

The White Cart Horse

My father was a horse dealer. He rented the meadow behind Palmer's Garage in Tollesbury, Mr George Brand, who was in charge of the Home guard, lived in the opposite garage.

One Friday my father went to chelmsford market and bought a white cart horse and turned it out onto the meadow when he got home after dark.

Mr Brand looked out of his bedroom window that night and saw this white object in the middle of the meadow. He contacted the Home Guard. They surrounded the "parachutist" and begun to creep up on him - only to find it was a horse.

I was too young to join the Home Guard but became a Home Guard messenger. Every Sunday we used to go up to the Recreation Ground to be drilled. We were issued with guns and blank bullets.

Our practice was against the Commandos who were stationed in the village. They would go out into the river in their collapsable boats. Their object was to land and to get to the Village Square - our job was to stop them. We fired our bullets and they were supposed to accept that they were "dead". We never knew who won the "battle".

At this time I was working for Drake's down at Woodrope. We were making 27' whalers for the navy.

We never went short of food in Tollesbury. We used to get 3/4lb of sugar a week. In our house we all had a screw-top jar and we'd get 1/2lb of sugar in each jar the rest went for jam and wine. My Dad went to the Elephant and Castle horse market one week and sold a couple of horses - he was asked if he'd like some sugar and came home with so much that we never went short of sugar again.

My cousin lived in Tollshunt Knights, he was a retired butcher and bred pigs. During the war local policeman had to check on any new litter and write down the number. He always put down one less and the family shared that one. When it was butchered the joints were all put in the cart and I had to drive it back to Tollesbury.

One time when I was doing this I got as far as D'Arcy and found a police block - they were looking for turkey thieves. I kept goin - our local policman was there and said "I know him, he's alright" and waved me through.

We kept goats at the beginning of the war and later had a little cow.

I used to go rabbiting and got half a crown(2/6) for a rabbit. I used to buy the skin back for 9d and when I'd got 100 I'd sell them for 1/- each.

I learned a lot during the war!

©Reg Houlding, WW2 People's War
Reproduced under the following terms

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