6 Beds & Herts

The battalion arrived from Luton, Bedfordshire at Woodbridge on 1st Nov 1939. Billeting arrangements were as follows: HQ Coy – Drill Hall, Quayside; A Coy – National Hall, Sun Lane; C Coy – Rowlands Stores, Thorofare; D Coy – Bull Hotel and Church Schools, Market Place. Quarter Master Stores were in sheds at the rear of the Lion Hotel. On 2nd Nov D coy relieved 4th Suffolk’s at R.A.F Bawdsey Experimental Station. Elmhurst Park was used for drill and weapon training.

On 17th Nov liaison was established at Martlesham Aerodrome and arrangements made for the allotment of two Weapons-pits for the battalion which could be occupied immediately on arrival. Work on these pits was started on 18th Nov.

On ‘Action Stations’, 6 Beds & Herts would be ordered to undertake one of the following tasks (depending on the situation):

(A) If the enemy has landed by sea or air and is driving towards Melton, to take up a defensive position covering the Melton causeway and nearby rail and road bridges. ‘A’ and ‘C’ companies had already reconnoitered the position and sited section posts. Police would arrange for the destruction of all boats that could not be moved so they could be of no use to the enemy. Headquarters would be at Ufford Place.

(B)To attack any enemy forces that had landed between Aldeburgh and Bawdsey. In this situation ‘A’ Company would take up the Melton causeway defensive position while ‘C’ Company would attack (the plan depending on the situation). An alternative Defensive position was also sited astride the Woodbridge – Ipswich road and the Woodbridge bypass and Ipswich road.

(C)Take up a defensive position with C Company occupying an area inclusive of River Deben from Ash Abbey through Wickham Market, Easton to Kettleburgh then Hill Farm to Campsey Ash. A Company would occupy the area from the River Ore through Marlesford to Parham.

(D) If the enemy attacked Martlesham Aerodrome by air, the battalion would move to attack and destroy the enemy.

The battalion was short of transport and to move to any of these positions from Woodbridge would require acquiring buses. Only two platoon Lorries were available – the battalion orders stated that anti-tank rifles were not to be carried. An ambulance would even have been used to carry one platoon's weapons.

The battalion orders contained the following instruction:

“In the event of Parachute droppings, all weapons within range will be brought to bear on the bodies while still in the air, any remaining alive when reaching the ground will be shot immediately – NO PRISONERS will be taken”.

  Above: Map showing Defensive locations for the four tasks that 6 Beds & Herts could be ordered to undertake

References: 6 Beds & Herts papers, TNA

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