Knostrop Army Camps New Posting

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Since the last posting of the Knostrop Army Camps, there have been several new comments on this site. Any further comments would be welcome.Blog Army Camp New

 

The Knostrop Army Camps

There is some debate as to just how many army camps there were at Knostrop. They were located near to the second plantation alongside the Paddy lines on the  approach to Black Road. I recall one camp which had one lot of huts for the German and Italian prisoners and one lot of accommodation for the British soldiers who guarded them.  Another view is that there were two completely different camps.

On the conclusion of the war the camp or camps were given over to training and territorials and I believe ‘Z’ training which was for National Service men returning for an annual camp to refresh their training.

Eric Janssen, who resides in Belgium,  replying to an internet ‘blog’ writes:

My maternal grandfather Major (Retd) Arnold LE Page was Quartermaster / caretaker of the 154 W.E.T.C (weekend training camp Knostrop) until his retirement in 1966. He died in 1970. My grandparents lived in a house just outside the camp next to the guard room. The camp commander was a Colonel (Retd) Hargreaves.

            As my father is Belgian and my mother was British we didn’t live in England but visited my grandparents about every two years and all I can remember as a ten year old child is that the camp was located in Black Lane [Road] about ten minutes drive form the centre of Leeds. From the guard room you could see two huge cooling towers (similar to those in a nuclear power station) [Skelton Grange] as well as a freight railway line used to transport coal.

            The huts (Nissen type) were made of wood similar to those in the Pirbright Depot (which I knew quite well having been there on several occasions to participate in the International Skill at Arms competitions held there every year). Many different units, probably cadet forces such as the Black Watch, came to the camp in the summer months (July / August) while we were on holiday.

            The were also gun pits (very similar to anti-aircraft gun positions) located uphill of the camp [these would probably be the pits for the wartime ack ack guns or as we called them ‘the pom poms’]

            I can remember going through the huts after the cadets had left with my grandfather to check everything was OK., going through the empty lockers and finding bits and pieces left, such as badges, cuff links, photographs, chocolate bars etc. These are unforgettable childhood memories. Unfortunately those are all the details I can remember.

Mr Jennsen’s notes on the army camps at Knostrop have recollected memories for Eric Allen who remembers helping the Coop milkman deliver milk to the camp and that there was a large model airplane lodged in the telephone wires nearby. Allan Fox who was the nearest of our old Knostrop residents to the camps – he lived just beyond the ‘second wood’ and quite near to the gun emplacements.

‘The first time the guns went off,’ he says, ’three of our budgies dropped dead from their perches.’ And Doug Farnill remembers his father was a sergeant with the TA there on the outbreak of war

          More on Knostrop Army Camp.

                          By Wayne Bickerdike

I remember the army camp at Knostrop. We used to go fishing for tadpoles in a pond where an army tank was bogged down for a long time. The farm became Austin’s farm but originally it was run by my father’s uncle, A Mr H.E. Bickerdike.

I have a tray which was left by my late auntie which was a gift from the armed forces who occupied his farm just before the start of WW2. The tray is inscribed:

“Presented to Mr H.E. Bickerdike by all ranks of 197 Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery in appreciation of his many kindnesses and help during thei occupation of his farmstead at the time of the temporary mobilization in September and October 1938”

The farm went out of our family to an adopted son of my Great Uncle, who had no children

And Still More on Knostrop Army Camp

By Ian Chadwick

I was born in East Leeds in 1951 and we used ro go to the army area in Knostrop (around 1959/60). I remember quite clearly climbing into an old rusting tank and then regretting it as I bcame frightened by all the metal around me. We always thought the old tank was on a firing range of some sort. Nearby were some deep trough lakes that were known to us as the ‘Blue Lagoons’ as they had a blue hue to them.

I also remember going to a farm near Swillington that was owned by Joe Steel. He was a little eccentric and drove a 1928 Rolls Royce complete with chicken muck inside, he also played a violin. I went there with my father to get free range eggs. There were two pillars on the drive to his farm that he said he had taken from Knostrop Old Hall before it was demolished as no one wanted them. Are they still there today? I do not know as I moved to Tyneside in 1971! 

Yet More on Knostrop Army Camp

                                                   By Eric Sanderson

About three quarters of a mile down the road from the Bridgefield, a rail spur ran from the ‘Paddy line’ to Neville Hill and a track on the RHS lead to an army camp which was used during WW2 to house POW’s and I think the local defence and Home Guard. There was also an Ack Ack battery stationed there. It was later used by the TA. The prisoners, which I believe were mainly Italians seemed to roam freely and a number of them stayed after the war, merging with the Italian contingent in the community. Part of the army camp was an armoured car testing circuit, which consisted of several deep water filled troughs with intervening humps and hillocks. These troughs teeming with frogs, newts and small fish were a magnet for young boys with fishing nets. On occasions a team of TA soldiers would bring a couple of tanks and put them through their paces around the circuit and once or twice they even allowed us onto the turret for a thrilling ride. However, I dread to think what happened to the wildlife in the water troughs as these armoured beasts splashed through them, churning up anything in their path with their powerful crawler tracks.

Knostrop Army Camp in Wartime

Arthur Wright

During World War Two I reached the age of sixteen years and became eligible to join the messenger Corps which meant we reported to our local Air Raid Warden’s Post on bicycles ready to work between ours and other wardens posts as the situation required. I remember going out on duty one night leaving home after the wailing of the sirens and into a very black, almost silent night, with only the drone of a single German plane overhead. Suddenly the anti-aircraft guns from Knostrop Camp blasted forth; what a crescendo, just like a huge firework display and then silence. Then nothing, not even the sound of the German plane, which had probably gone on its merry way. It must have been a ‘miss’. It wasn’t frightening but it rather took my breath away. The sound of the Knostrop guns eventually became part of our daily lives.

            However, the Knostrop Army camp had another interest for me, now seventeen years of age I was very fortunate to be invited with a friend of mine to weekend dances held there. I think they were held on Sunday evenings and I attended quite a few. We had some really good times and I became friendly with a Welsh girl, Gwyneth, who was stationed there and a very good dancer too.

            Leeds did not suffer many bombing raids compared to so many other large cities. But a hit on Richmond Hill School by one of a ‘stick of bombs’ which also took out Marsh Lane railway Station [14th March 1941] was a little too close for comfort.

 

 

The Knostrop Army Camps

There is some debate as to just how many army camps there were at Knostrop. They were located near to the second plantation alongside the Paddy lines on the  approach to Black Road. I recall one camp which had one lot of huts for the German and Italian prisoners and one lot of accommodation for the British soldiers who guarded them.  Another view is that there were two completely different camps.

On the conclusion of the war the camp or camps were given over to training and territorials and I believe ‘Z’ training which was for National Service men returning for an annual camp to refresh their training.

Eric Janssen, who resides in Belgium,  replying to an internet ‘blog’ writes:

My maternal grandfather Major (Retd) Arnold LE Page was Quartermaster / caretaker of the 154 W.E.T.C (weekend training camp Knostrop) until his retirement in 1966. He died in 1970. My grandparents lived in a house just outside the camp next to the guard room. The camp commander was a Colonel (Retd) Hargreaves.

            As my father is Belgian and my mother was British we didn’t live in England but visited my grandparents about every two years and all I can remember as a ten year old child is that the camp was located in Black Lane [Road] about ten minutes drive form the centre of Leeds. From the guard room you could see two huge cooling towers (similar to those in a nuclear power station) [Skelton Grange] as well as a freight railway line used to transport coal.

            The huts (Nissen type) were made of wood similar to those in the Pirbright Depot (which I knew quite well having been there on several occasions to participate in the International Skill at Arms competitions held there every year). Many different units, probably cadet forces such as the Black Watch, came to the camp in the summer months (July / August) while we were on holiday.

            The were also gun pits (very similar to anti-aircraft gun positions) located uphill of the camp [these would probably be the pits for the wartime ack ack guns or as we called them ‘the pom poms’]

            I can remember going through the huts after the cadets had left with my grandfather to check everything was OK., going through the empty lockers and finding bits and pieces left, such as badges, cuff links, photographs, chocolate bars etc. These are unforgettable childhood memories. Unfortunately those are all the details I can remember.

Mr Jennsen’s notes on the army camps at Knostrop have recollected memories for Eric Allen who remembers helping the Coop milkman deliver milk to the camp and that there was a large model airplane lodged in the telephone wires nearby. Allan Fox who was the nearest of our old Knostrop residents to the camps – he lived just beyond the ‘second wood’ and quite near to the gun emplacements.

‘The first time the guns went off,’ he says, ’three of our budgies dropped dead from their perches.’ And Doug Farnill remembers his father was a sergeant with the TA there on the outbreak of war

          More on Knostrop Army Camp.

                          By Wayne Bickerdike

I remember the army camp at Knostrop. We used to go fishing for tadpoles in a pond where an army tank was bogged down for a long time. The farm became Austin’s farm but originally it was run by my father’s uncle, A Mr H.E. Bickerdike.

I have a tray which was left by my late auntie which was a gift from the armed forces who occupied his farm just before the start of WW2. The tray is inscribed:

“Presented to Mr H.E. Bickerdike by all ranks of 197 Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery in appreciation of his many kindnesses and help during thei occupation of his farmstead at the time of the temporary mobilization in September and October 1938”

The farm went out of our family to an adopted son of my Great Uncle, who had no children

And Still More on Knostrop Army Camp

By Ian Chadwick

I was born in East Leeds in 1951 and we used ro go to the army area in Knostrop (around 1959/60). I remember quite clearly climbing into an old rusting tank and then regretting it as I bcame frightened by all the metal around me. We always thought the old tank was on a firing range of some sort. Nearby were some deep trough lakes that were known to us as the ‘Blue Lagoons’ as they had a blue hue to them.

I also remember going to a farm near Swillington that was owned by Joe Steel. He was a little eccentric and drove a 1928 Rolls Royce complete with chicken muck inside, he also played a violin. I went there with my father to get free range eggs. There were two pillars on the drive to his farm that he said he had taken from Knostrop Old Hall before it was demolished as no one wanted them. Are they still there today? I do not know as I moved to Tyneside in 1971! 

Yet More on Knostrop Army Camp

                                                   By Eric Sanderson

About three quarters of a mile down the road from the Bridgefield, a rail spur ran from the ‘Paddy line’ to Neville Hill and a track on the RHS lead to an army camp which was used during WW2 to house POW’s and I think the local defence and Home Guard. There was also an Ack Ack battery stationed there. It was later used by the TA. The prisoners, which I believe were mainly Italians seemed to roam freely and a number of them stayed after the war, merging with the Italian contingent in the community. Part of the army camp was an armoured car testing circuit, which consisted of several deep water filled troughs with intervening humps and hillocks. These troughs teeming with frogs, newts and small fish were a magnet for young boys with fishing nets. On occasions a team of TA soldiers would bring a couple of tanks and put them through their paces around the circuit and once or twice they even allowed us onto the turret for a thrilling ride. However, I dread to think what happened to the wildlife in the water troughs as these armoured beasts splashed through them, churning up anything in their path with their powerful crawler tracks.

Knostrop Army Camp in Wartime

Arthur Wright

During World War Two I reached the age of sixteen years and became eligible to join the messenger Corps which meant we reported to our local Air Raid Warden’s Post on bicycles ready to work between ours and other wardens posts as the situation required. I remember going out on duty one night leaving home after the wailing of the sirens and into a very black, almost silent night, with only the drone of a single German plane overhead. Suddenly the anti-aircraft guns from Knostrop Camp blasted forth; what a crescendo, just like a huge firework display and then silence. Then nothing, not even the sound of the German plane, which had probably gone on its merry way. It must have been a ‘miss’. It wasn’t frightening but it rather took my breath away. The sound of the Knostrop guns eventually became part of our daily lives.

            However, the Knostrop Army camp had another interest for me, now seventeen years of age I was very fortunate to be invited with a friend of mine to weekend dances held there. I think they were held on Sunday evenings and I attended quite a few. We had some really good times and I became friendly with a Welsh girl, Gwyneth, who was stationed there and a very good dancer too.

            Leeds did not suffer many bombing raids compared to so many other large cities. But a hit on Richmond Hill School by one of a ‘stick of bombs’ which also took out Marsh Lane railway Station [14th March 1941] was a little too close for comfort.

 

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