Heath Camp




Heath camp was a small army camp during WW2, there was a training ground that stretched across to Tangham forest consisting of trenches and barbed wire, although it is believed the trenches were dug to try and stop enemy gliders from landing, the same kind of trenches were also dug across Hollesley Heath to the left of the water tower.
One night a Lancaster bomber fell short of the Sutton Heath crash drome and landed on Hollesley Heath, the wheels getting stuck in one of those trenches, one of Phil Shimmon's relations who was stationed at Sutton Heath during the war told him, when they turned up to help, the pilot jumped out and shouted, Who the bloody hell dug that trench
The Lancaster was pulled out and towed back towards to the edge of the heath, close to where Moorlands is now.
It was stripped down and all the guns were removed to reduce the weight, serviced and got ready for flight.
The American army of engineers came and bulldozed the whole heath flat and laid down P.S.P pieced steel planking, which you can still see evidence of today, the engineers were all black, and the whole exercise was achieved in one night.
Phil's boss, Herbert Crane and his friend, Dennis Stone were young boys at the time and it wasnt long before they got to hear that they were going to attempt to fly the Lancaster off.
On the day, Herbert & Dennis watched as the bomber was got ready, the engines were started, run up and tested, Herbert, or Jack as everybody knew him told Phil that the roar from the engines was deafening and they sent up huge clouds of dust from the light sandy soil.
It was off with the brakes, and the Lancaster lumbered down the heath towards Manor Farm, just clearing the trees at the end, what a joy that must have been for two young boys to witness.
Today if you walk across the Heath you can still see where the runway was laid down.

We should acknowledge Mr Geoffrey Haige for some of the information about Hollesley Heath. He was stationed at Sutton Heath during WW2 and later married Herbert Crane's sister.

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