Kingston’s plans to defeat Hitler

Sussex Local History Speaker, Ian Everest, was more than interested in Rouser’s March 22 story about council chairman Mary Hurst and her involvement with a World War Two oil barrel.

He says: ‘I was manager of Newhaven Fort at the time and Mary Hurst phoned me to tell me about the following interesting story.

‘During 1994, it was noticed that some liquid was seeping out of the roadside bank in Ashcombe Hollow in Kingston.

On close investigation it was found to smell of diesel oil and petrol.

‘County Council Highways did some investigative digging and found a 45 gallon steel barrel buried into the bank, from which the liquid was seeping.

They removed it and made it safe.

‘On hearing about the find, I did some research and found out that the during the war, the Home Guard had buried an unknown number of these barrels - filled with explosive liquid - in the banks on this narrow road linking Kingston to the A27.

‘The barrels would have had a tube connected to them, which surfaced behind the hedge and out of sight of the road.

‘If Hitler’s planned invasion of the country (Operation Sealion) had taken place and the German tanks had come rumbling through Kingston village and down through the Hollow, the members of the local Home Guard would have pressed the buttons to ignite the charges next to the barrels.

The force of the blast would have hopefully knocked the tracks off the tanks and brought the convey to a standstill. In the ensuing confusion, the Home Guard would have returned and entered into combat with the tank crews.

‘The oil-barrel device was known as a Fougasse Bomb and was typical of the various home-made devices that the Home Guard produced.

‘ I suggested the the barrel be brought to the fort and that Mary Hurst, councillor for Kingston, be formally invited to hand back the device to the Newhaven Fort Dad’s Army Renactment Team. This duly happened one Sunday and of course my main motive for doing it was to get some publicity of the fort!

‘I should point out that only one barrel was removed. Whilst not wishing to cause a mile exclusion zone around Ashcombe Lane, there could of course be more of them buried in the bank. Look out for the tell-tale signs of a smelly liquid seeping out of the banks.’