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Memories of Craster Tower, June to October 1945

The following are the memories of Leslie Edwards concerning his experience of being billeted in Craster in 1945.

"Posted to Lancashire Fusiliers, Alnwick in June 1945 after initial training at Shorncliffe and Cameron Barracks Inverness. Joined 'F' Company at Craster Tower.

Company offices and officers’ quarters in the house – Other Rank’s occupied wooden huts in the northern grounds of the house, as were the dining hut and company cook house. I remember ‘The Way Ahead’, with David Niven being shown in the dining hut, which was also used for company briefings/meetings.

I seldom entered the house and then only through the northern doorway overlooking the cobbled area.

Morning Parade and Guard Mounting took place on the cobbled area – stables used as Guard House. I am not aware of any company personnel using the present main entrance. I only remember guard being posted at the archway entrance and my recollection is that all movement of personnel and transport was through that entrance.

It is possible that friends or members of the Craster family occupied part of the house in 1945 but I do not remember seeing any’ civilians’ in the house or grounds.

Having completed basic training at Shorncliffe/Inverness, Fieldcraft and Tactical Exercises were the main part of life at Craster. Weapons training took place in the field on the Eastern side of the hut area – I’m not sure where we went in bad weather.

Frequent road marches and visits to the 30yd Range situated by the bend in the road to Craster village, where we also practised rock ascents and general use of ropes.

Night exercises took place on ground between the village and Dunstanburgh Castle.

Training at Craster was past V.E. Day and we were constantly reminded that we would be facing the Japanese and had a few days jungle training, which I have since realised was at Haggerston Castle.

Towards the end of the Training Schedule there was a grand exercise with RAF and artillery support in the Cheviot Hills known as the ‘ Chevy Chase’.

After V.J. Day the company moved to Boulmer aerodrome – later departed Alnmouth Station to join 2nd. Battalion in Austria.

General Thoughts

Football on the sloping ground between the village and castle.

Regular runs to village.

Saturday ‘Passion Wagon’ to Alnwick or Seahouses.

Visits to cinema in Craster, which was adjacent to kipper factory.

Company affected by diarrhoea – advanced treatment by medics – all affected given large lumps of cheese!"

Leslie Edwards
June 17th 2009

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