The two World Wars had a major impact on every community in
Britain and Linton was no exception.
The September, 1912 army manoeuvres in East Anglia involved
the first large scale use of aerial reconnaissance in warfare
and the final battle at Horseheath produced the kind of stalemate
later experienced in the Great War. The visit of King George
V was an unexpected bonus.
Whilst local volunteers and regulars went off to the front or
joined the navy, the First World War immediately
impacted on the villagers with the arrival of Belgian refugees
and wounded soldiers. Many were housed in the Symonds Lane Workhouse
and later at the Manor House in Coles Lane. I have included
photographs of the Red Cross hospital at both locations.
Excitement and curiosity gripped the village in 1917-18 with
the arrival of around one hundred German POW’s at the
Workhouse. Their regular forays into the village to work on
local farms were eagerly awaited by the local children.
When the war ended in November 1918, joy was muted by the loss
of 47 Linton soldiers and the large numbers of wounded men
who returned. A celebratory mood was more apparent in 1919 after
the Versailles Peace Settlement had been signed.
In 1920 a German field gun was placed by the Swan bridge on
a raised plinth, a symbol of the allied victory. Our local memorial
was unveiled in Linton cemetery in 1921.
The Second World War led to fewer local
casualties but affected the civilian population much more
because of attacks by German aircraft and the large number
of airfields in our region.
Troops were stationed at Chilford Hall, Queen’s House,
the Shepherds Hall, the Lecture Room in Horn Lane, Catley
Park, Little Linton and Bartlow. Tanks were seen in the streets
in the early years of the war and were based at varying times
in Joiners Road, the Grip, Bartlow Hall and Abington.
The Village College was the main centre for the billeting
of evacuees and provided a canteen for local voluntary organisations.
The HQ of the ARP was at Bertie Sneezum’s bakery in
the High Street. The village siren was located here and gas
masks were fitted and checked out.
The Home Guard HQ was in the Shepherds Hall and later transferred
to the Old Market Hall. As yet I have been unable to locate
a photo of our villager Home Guard.
The Red Cross and WVS were very active and used the Beeches
in Green Lane, the Red Cross Hut in Coles Lane and the Village
College for their essential wartime work.
Linton fire service was initially based in the Market Hall
and then moved to Symonds Lane. The old fire engines were
sent for scrap in 1940.
The Observer Corps had an observation post in Hollow Lane
and did stalwart service in spotting and tracking enemy aircraft.
Cadet groups for boys and girls were based at the Village
College. Scouts and guides contributed to the war service
by escorting evacuees to their billets and by making house
to house collections for salvage, especially of paper and
Ration books were issued from the Literary Institute building
but sometimes from private residences.
The village supported and housed constant influxes of evacuees
and the names of many of them were recorded in the school
registers. However, the attendance registers for the early
years of the war in 1939-41 have been lost.