Interview with Dorie Howie, former member of the Land Army, and other residents of Thorpe-le-Soken, 3 August 2017
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
'Discovering Dad's Army' oral histories
Scope and Content:
Dorie Howie [DH] interviewed by Fred Nash [FN] and Roger Kennell [RK] of the Clacton Victoria County History Group (CVCHG) at the interviewee's home in Thorpe-le-Soken on 3 August 2017. DH talks about her memories of the town and the Home Guard (HG) during the Second World War. DH's friend Ron and daughter Ann are also present; Ron talks about his memories of the landscape during wartime and being at Gold Beach on D-Day.

[00:00:00] FN introduces the interview and those present.
[00:01:08] RH talks about living in Thorpe all her life, except for the two years she worked for the Land Army. Describes how she came to join up. Worked on a tomato farm in Rayleigh and then transferred to Little Clacton after she got married. Describes working conditions.
[00:04:18] Comments on not knowing much about the HG in Thorpe; father wasn't in it. Recalls working in the laundry in Little Clacton before joining the Land Army and alerting people before an air raid by going round on her bicycle blowing a whistle. Discusses vague memories of HG; possibly a hut.
[00:05:45] FN and RK talk about surviving structures from the HG in Thorpe, including two ammunition shelters in a field near the church. DH recalls them as Nissen huts on Mill Meadow. Ron talks about the abbatoir on Mill Lane.
[00:07:29] FN shows DH wartime records of military buildings and weapons pits on private land, and the names of the owners. Points out two spigot mortar positions on the Grange land; DH recalls being full of soldiers. DH and Ron recall the owners Mrs Harris and Mr Lochyear.
[00:09:45] FN shows DH a map of the area, pointing out the position of a pillbox on the crossroads outside Oakley House. DH thinks there might have been one near the police houses next to the police station. Discuss places on the map. FN talks about residents of Oakley House knowing about the pillbox and points out where road barriers were. Ron recalls them as half-barriers and describes how they were guarded. FN refers to them as 'dragonsteeth'. Ron recalls further barriers down by the 'Port' station. Recalls a Scottish regiment drilling holes into the new railway bridge to put in cordite charges in 1939. Can still see marks. Barrier there stopped traffic.
[00:14:11] DH describes two concrete cones in a garden in Landermere Road, confirming wartime records of anti-tank obstacles. FN describes position and another set in the village. describes how positioned and another set in the village
[00:15:50] Discussion about whether Ivy Lodge was built after the war; possibly by Wether family, builders.
[00:18:16] No memories of road barrier outside the Bell in the High Street. RN and Ron discuss a weigh bridge outside Maldon being drilled for explosives and the local station bridge. RK mentions another bridge with holes near Holland-on-Sea.
[00:19:46] Discuss Thorpe Hall being used by the military. DH recalls a lot of soldiers there and Ron comments on guns being placed in the woods between the entrance and the station. His sister and Alma Bradbrook met their husbands when stationed there. Mentions book about Lady Byng describing the hall being requistioned.
[00:21:55] Ron comments that he was 14 or 15 at the time. Describes fairly large guns in the woods; faced out to sea and were mobile. Area less wooded now. Recalls Scottish regiment drilling the station bridge before the war started, in late 1938 or early 1939.
[00:24:21] FN talks about an anti-tank ditch to the east of Thorpe, near Elm Farm. Ron comments that it was probably dug by the War and Agricultural (War Ag) and names possible digger driver Ken Crease; given British Empire Medal for digging ditches during the war. Discuss anti-tank ditches with photos and records of route in March 1941.
[00:28:20] Discuss possible position of Home Guard hut near the Police Station.
[00:31:10] FN asks about ARP (Air Raid Precautions) sirens, wardens, and shelters. Few memories. Ron recalls Clacton old Fire Station alarm, heard in Little Clacton. Discuss warning systems in old village and DH describes using the whistle on her bicycle.
[00:32:31] Ron talks about a bomber, Messerschmit 109, coming down just off the Harwich Road, by the house of a cycle shop owner [Deritt?]. Another bomber and incendiary came down near Wearly church.
[00:33:34] FN thanks DH and Ron. DH adds that she recalls lots of soldiers. Interviewers ask about D-Day. Ron was on the landings with the Grenville and the Ulster, escorting the Belfast. Describes how he left the Clyde on the 5th, only to get to Plymouth to hear it had been cancelled. Cruised up and down the Irish Sea until the morning, when he went to Gold Beach on the Ulster.
Dates of Creation:
3 August 2017
36 minutes 32 seconds
Creator Name:
Clacton Victoria County History Group
Admin History:
Dorie Howie was born around 1930 in Thorpe-le-Soken and lived there all her life, except when she worked for the Land Army. She was 15 when the Second World War started.
Archivist Note:
MJ February 2024
Clacton Victoria County History Group transferred copyright to ESVA.
Physical Characteristics:
1 MP3 file (copied from original cassette)