Bower Hinton is a village in the parish of Martock in Somerset, situated on the edge of the Somerset Levels 7 miles north west of Yeovil.
|Sergeant Nigel Leonard Palmer||
Farm manager & tractor driver
|06 Jul 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Thomas Harry Farthing||
|Unknown||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Alfred Cecil Keech||
Stonemason and bricklayer
|22 Oct 1942||14 Apr 1943|
|Private Eric Kensington||
Millwright apprentice (Aircraft) Westlands
|22 Aug 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Frederick Reginald Read||
|Unknown||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Emmanuel Aubrey Giles Reid||
Bandmill timber sawyer
|07 Jul 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Walter James Richards||
Labourer at camp - heavy worker
|09 Jul 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private John Hebditch Vaux||
|07 Jun 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Donald John White||
Poultry appliance maker
|22 Oct 1942||14 Apr 1943|
The OB was in Drayton Covert near South Petherton.
The wood has changed since the war as it was originally a square shaped wood in the centre of a field. In 1985 part of the original wood was destroyed but the remaining part was incorporated into a new wood which is now a long strip in shape. The OB was sited in the area of the old wood, which is now incorporated into the new wood. A small ridge runs across the width of the wood and this is the remains of the dividing bank that surrounded the original wood site. You can also tell that you are in the old wood because there is older, mature trees in this part which are not in the rest of the wood.
Today Drayton Covert is a mixture of trees with average ground cover of young trees, plants and brambles with a narrow private path running along it.
The OB was destroyed around 1999 because of the risk of children being injured while playing in it and the danger to livestock as several sheep were lost in it. They had a difficult job destroying the structure, even with a bulldozer, because of the thick steel corrugated sheeting. Today there are no remains or signs of the OB but there is a wide, shallow, slight depression that seems to go the width of the wood in this area which could be the outline of where the structure was.
The OB was originally dug out by hand and with wheelbarrows and the structure buried underground.
Various people's memories describe the OB as possibly having steps leading down into a corrugated steel half round structure. The OB consisted of two Nissen hut rooms that were around 10 feet apart but joined together with an 18 or 24 inch pipe which the Auxiliers would have crawled through to get into the second chamber. Another tunnel is remembered as coming away from the chamber at right angles so this is assumed to be the escape tunnel.
During the war Chris Willy found the entrance and went into the OB as a child. He found the wooden trap door under leaves and woodland debris. Investigating further he noticed that it was hollow underneath and he climbed down into the chamber. He was stunned to find it contained Sten guns, ammunition and grenades but as far as he can remember there were no rifles present. He got out quickly and covered the trap door back up as it was and he never spoke about his discovery during the war to anyone.
Shore's Wood near Bower Hinton, which is less than a mile away, contained a bomb store for the Patrol on the north east edge. The land owner and brother of Nigel Palmer called it a ‘store’ This structure was possibly built by the Royal Engineers. Constructed of corrugated steel sheeting, it was well built and a well supported structure. It was full of ammunition when it was in use.
This structure was built or dug into the top of the slope and just inside the edge of Shore’s Wood which is on a slope were the ground level changes between two fields. It could go possible slightly into the field outside the wood but this is unknown for sure. The door was on the south west side on the downward slope side of the structure. It has been suggested that this was not hidden or disguised apart from it being in the wood.
Just a hollow remains in the slope of the ground as it has now collapsed. All that can be seen is a depression in the slope with bits of corrugated sheeting lying around amongst the overgrowth.
Likely targets include the nearby A303, a main road leading out of the South West peninsular. Damage or blocking of Petherton Bridge (A303) and Carey's Mill Bridge (¾ of a mile to the west of Bower Hinton) would hinder supply routes. Hurst Bow Bridge on the B3165 at Martock is built on a right angle bend in the road so it would be difficult to bridge over if destroyed.
Important road junctions on the A303 such as the A356 coming up from the South and Crewkerne. The B3165 that goes north though Bower Hinton and Martock to Somerton.
The railway line and station at Martock that went from Yeovil on to Langport could also have been a target.
Sergeant Nigel Palmer and Lieutenant William B. Martin cleared out the explosives store after the war and put the contents in a nearby pond. They then blew the lot up with the contents of the pond going everywhere. They damaged a nearby tree which later died because of this damage.
The kindness of the landowners in allowing access.
TNA ref WO199/3391 and WO199/ 3390
Hancock data held at B.R.A
Donald Brown and his research for Defence of Britain Project
The Somerset Home Guard, a Pictorial Roll call, by Jeffrey Wilson.
Mr Rob Vaux, Mr Patrick Palmer, Mr John Blake, Mr Chris Willey and Mr T Monaghan.
Martock Memories by Roy Maber