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From Our Files: New Forest soldiers escape, cattle grids campaign, and playing fields plan stopped

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THE good news has been received that two, and not one, local lads from the 5th Battalion Hampshire Regiment, not only escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp in Italy (Campo 82), but actually rejoined their own battalion!

Last week, we mentioned that dispatch rider Fred Taylor, of Wootton, had made good his escape and reached the Allied Armies in Italy, and it is now revealed that Private Jack Hurley, of Oakwood Avenue, New Milton, who worked at Walkford Farm before the war, and served in the same Hampshire Battalion, was with his pal Fred.

This news come in a letter from Cpl Leslie Etheridge, M.M., Hampshire Regiment, whose home is in Everton, and who in a letter to his wife says: “I can give you a little surprise Jack Hurley and Fred Taylor are on their way home. Apparently they walked between 300 and 400 miles from the north of Italy in eight days to our own lines and are now in Naples ready to come home.

“One of our officers met them and they immediately asked for me. They had new battle dress on and looked exceedingly healthy. I know that old Jack and Fred would do something like that and I am glad they succeeded.

“If you ever see Jack or Fred, tell them that Percy Bray – the lad who was going to sample your dinner – is no longer with us – he is far above us all. We still have Sergeant Varley, Cpl Payne, myself, L/Cpl Clements, L/Cpl Jenkinson and Pte Baker. These are the only ones who left the UK with us. All the others are still in Italy (or Germany now) or are with Percy.”


The statement was made at Lymington Borough Police Court last week that the whole of the 40 milk retailers in the Borough had supplied surplus milk to their customers – over and above the rationed amount of 2 1/2 pints per person per week – and there was not a single household in the Borough which had not received more milk than it should have done since the milk rationing scheme came into force.

As briefly stated last week, three New Milton retailers and one from Milford-on-Sea were summoned for selling milk in excess of the amount allowed in their permit, and for failing to notify the Regional Milk Officer of the amount of the excess quantity.


Hordle celebrated Christmas in good time this year, when the Women’s Institute held a most successful gift sale in aid of the Red Cross and their own funds. The total proceeds amounted to £60 – no small feat for the fifth Christmas of the war and all its restrictions!

The sale was not on an ambitious scale, but it did offer a good selection of gifts, calendars and toys (mostly home-made), as well as produce and jumble. There was a fish pond, lucky tickets, for such rare prizes as a banana – yes, a real old-fashioned one, looking twice as tempting as they used to do!


A petition asking for cattle grids and fencing to keep New Forest ponies out of two council estates at Burley has been presented to the parish council. It has been signed by nearly all the residents from the two estates, in Water Lane and Meadow Close, Burley, and calls for “appropriate action to safeguard our children against the danger of the New Forest ponies.”


Sir, - I am very indignant that the Government should have the nerve to suggest turning the Cadnam to Ringwood road into a motorway. This charming road is at present available to that very athletic section of the public, the cyclists, who would then be automatically denied its use.

It is a gross miscarriage of justice that this healthy and practical form of transport should be ruthlessly stamped on by a pressure group. The least that should be done is to leave a road open for the slower forms of transport.


A Burton man who has a child at Christchurch Grammar School and another at Somerford County Secondary School, both of which have decided not to alter their hours, has sent a plea to the Queen for Parliament to take “urgent” action to make all schools start later to avoid children having to travel in the dark.

He is Mr Alistair Hembling, of Footners Lane, Burton, who in his plea said: “As a parent I feel I must write to you seeking help to allay the fears of parents whose children are now forced to wend their way to school in dark and dangerous conditions.”

An amendment to the Education Act to bring about the change in hours was now “an urgent priority,” MPs should act at once. “What a Christmas present it would be to schoolchildren everywhere,” he commented.

Roads leading to schools in Christchurch are lit in the mornings but there is no street lighting in Burton, and the village school there is starting later.


The 40mph speed limit on the New Forest’s unfenced roads has become a way of life and has achieved a significant reduction in animal and human accidents, Hampshire County Council has reported. Motorists have become so used to keeping their speed down that they are driving noticeably more slowly on roads through the Forest which are fenced and have no speed limit.

There have been requests for the 40mph limit to be further educed to 30mph in some areas, but the county’s Highway Strategy Members Panel was being urged at its meeting yesterday (Friday) to reject them on the grounds that they went against the principles of an area-wide speed limit and could be considered as precedents for other Forest roads. However, the county says the issue of lowering the limit still further should be considered by a working party which is being reconvened to tackle the problems of the New Forest in the next century.


Christchurch Council has won its Appeal Court battle to overturn a planning inspector’s decision allowing Barratts to build on part of Burton school playing fields.

“It’s a victory for good planning, common sense and the residents of Burton,” declared borough planning manager Martin Andrews. “Justice has been done.”

Villagers have fought for 10 years to keep the four acres of land, declared surplus by the county council, as public open space because of the chronic shortage in Burton.

However, the land was sold to Barratts for a reported £2m on condition that planning permission was granted and in 1990, an Environment Department inspector said that building could go ahead.

Christchurch unsuccessfully challenged the validity of the inspector’s decision in the High Court, but decided to take the case to the Appeal Court because it was felt to be so important. A two-day hearing was held last month and on Thursday, the three Appeal judges announced that they had found in favour of Christchurch.

The judges admitted they had reached their unanimous decision reluctantly but had concluded that the inspector had failed to balance the issues properly and had concentrated too much on what would happen to the land if permission was refused and paid insufficient regard to its importance as open space.


A potential operator for the threatened 400-year-old Hythe ferry service to Southampton was due to be announced by Hampshire County Council yesterday (Friday), with about half a dozen companies being given serious consideration.

Nicky Johnson, spokeswoman for liquidators Neville Russell in Brighton, who have been negotiating with the companies, was not able to reveal who they were, but told the A&T that the County Council had about six firm bids. The closing date for proposals was 10th December and a decision on who will run the Waterfront Ferry was expected to have been made at the end of this week.

The existing operator of the service, Derrick Shipping, went into voluntary liquidation in November and the County Council, along with other authorities involved, stepped in with a subsidy to keep the service running on a week to week basis until a new operator was found.

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