Stanford
Tottington
West Tofts
Book review ("A Norfolk Woman")
Return to villages index
Paddy's home page

From the Eastern Daily Press, Monday, August 7th, 2000:

Lt Col M D CHAMBERS
Headquarters, Army Training
Estate East,
West Tofts Camp, Thetford.


I refer to your article in the July 31 edition of the EDP which was headlined "Heartache for lost villages".

As Commandant Stanford Training Area, I happily host a variety of tours when operational training permits. Seven years ago - in 1993 - these tours were extended to cater specifically for those people who has once lived in one or other of the villages of Stanford, West Tofts, Langford, and Tottington and the hamlets of Sturston and Buckenham Tofts.

This year was the third such visit to be arranged. Nineteen members of my staff were pleased to ensure that a large number of elderly people and their relatives could enjoy a day of reunion. We will be planning similar events in the coming years.

Your article covered some of the issues of the "Stanford Evacuation", as it was known, which was unquestionably a difficult time for those who were closely affected, although many civilians elsewhere in the country were enduring similar or even worse privations.

You should note that almost all of those who lived in the villages and hamlets affected by the 1942 closure were tenants who lived in tied cottages.

It is not true to say that those involved were never compensated. They were, and this compensation included "compoensation rental", the "value of any growing crops etc," and "any expenses incurred in complying with the direction".

In Lord Walsingham's case, his old house was compulsorily purchased and he then bought the property back and moved it "brick by brick and timber by timber" to its present location.

The demolition, removal, and rebuilding took about 12 months. Those in council houses, and who had to move into other council properties, continue to pay to this day at the 1942 rate, with the MOD paying the balance.

As a further point of detail, four weeks' notice was given of the impending requisition, not two to three weeks, and the instructions given at the time specifically included the fact that livestock and furniture should be taken.

My staff were delighted that a large number of those who attended the most recent reunion visit expressed personal thanks for their efforts in ensuring that the day was a very special one.

Stanford
Tottington
West Tofts
Book review ("A Norfolk Woman")
Return to villages index
Paddy's home page