Record Details

NHER Number:34704
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of World War Two High Ash Training Camp

Summary

High Ash Camp was used between January and May 1944 by the 7th Armoured Division (the 'Desert Rats'). It is the only British training ground to be used by this Division. The northern part of the camp was used by the City of London Yeomanry. Concrete roads and foundations of huts and camp buildings are now displayed as a heritage trail. A World War Two Cromwell tank on a plinth near the road is a war memorial. A deep brick-lined well was found 'on High Ash Hill near to reservoir' in 1994. It has now been plated over and reburied. This may have been connected with the camp. Earthwork banks, ditches, the remains of huts, and other features relating to the camp and military training are visible on visualised lidar data and aerial photographs

Images

  • The Desert Rats war memorial on the site of the High Ash training camp  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Location

Grid Reference:TL 8103 9704
Map Sheet:TL89NW
Parish:ICKBURGH, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

February 1998. Walkover Survey.
Rapid Earthwork Identification Survey (Compartment 2038).
A large circular pit 30m in diameter was located at TL81089694 and was thought to be a former marl pit. This pit was probably open during the late 19th century as it appears to correspond with a feature marked on the 1st Edition O.S 6" map.
See report (S1) for further details.
S. Howard (HES), 2 September 2011. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 19 August 2015.

Site of army camp, used 1944 by Seventh Armoured Division ('Desert Rats') as their only training site in Britain; northern area used by City of London Yeomanry. Concrete roads remain, and also foundations of huts and various camp buildings. Now displayed as heritage trail; Cromwell tank mounted on plinth by road in southeast corner. Most of area now forested, pine and old hazel coppice. Report in 1994 by [1] of 46m (150 feet) deep brick lined well found 'on Highash Hill near to reservoir' plated over and reburied. This may be connected with the camp but may be just in Didlington parish and may be connected with the adjacent Falconers Lodge 18th/19th century (for this see NHER 34704). The reservoir was made in 1973.
E. Rose (NLA), 20 October 1999.

2009.
For the Desert Rat Walk / Forest Trail see (S2)
The Cromwell tank at the entrance to High Ash picnic site is a memorial to the 7th Armoured Division of the Desert Rats who were based here during World War II. The easy access trail passes through the old camp. Interpretation boards explain aspects of life for The Desert Rats during their stay in Thetford Forest during 1944. 1) Daily Routine in the Camp; 2) The Desert Rats; 3) Officer's Mess; 4) Cookhouse and Mess Hut; 5) Accommodation; 6) NAAFI; 7) The Cromwell Tank and Reme.
D. Gurney (NLA), 23 November 2009.

December 2018. Breckland National Mapping Programme.
Site of High Ash Second World War Training camp is seen on aerial photographs and visualised lidar data (S3-S8). The site contains a large amount of huts most of which are seen as structures in the 1940s before being removed by the 1950s, where the concrete platform hut bases are visible on aerial photographs. Some of the earthwork banks surrounding the huts in the north and south of the area survive presently as earthworks. The huts range in size and types and most likely would have served different purposes such as accommodation, support structures and storage. Other structures are visible such as a possible pill box to the south (NHER 63045), fenced features in the south west (NHER 63043 & 63044) and a tented structure next to the huts situated on the western perimeter track in 1946 (TL 8065 9674). A large wedge shaped earthwork ramp has been recorded in the centre of the area behind one of the large huts (at TL 8087 9687). This feature is unusual and similar earthwork features have not been seen during the aerial investigation and mapping survey; therefore it is difficult to interpret the function of this earthwork other than relating to the military camp. At TL 8024 9709 there is a group of earthworks which may relate to military training or defence. Finally sections of the Second World War hard standings and roads survive presently and can be seen on recent (2006) (S7) aerial photographs.
J.Powell (Norfolk Historic Environment Service), 13th December 2018.

Monument Types

  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Unknown date)
  • DITCH (Unknown date)
  • MOUND (Unknown date)
  • WELL (Unknown date)
  • ARMY CAMP (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • DITCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • HUT PLATFORM (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY CAMP (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY SUPPORT BUILDING? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY TRAINING SITE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MOUND (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • NISSEN HUT? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • ROAD? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • STRUCTURE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • TRENCH? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: Rose, E.. 2001. J2H 17 Desert Rats Memorial.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1998. Monty's men get their memorial. 27 October.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1996-1998. [Articles on the creation of a memorial to the 7th Armoured Division of the Desert Rats].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Unpublished Contractor Report: Pendleton, C. and Sommers, M. 1998. Rapid Earthwork Identification Survey. Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. 98/25.
<S2>Website: Forestry Commission. 2009. Desert Rats Walk. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/ourwoods.nsf/LUWebDocsByKey/EnglandEastAngliaNoForestThetfordForestParkHighAshDesertRatWalk. 23 November 2009.
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF/106G/UK/369 RP 3065-3066 08-JUN-1945 (HEA Original Print).
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF/3G/TUD/UK/101 RV 6061-6062 AND 6095-6096 30-MAR-1946 (HEA Original Print).
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF/58/1890 V 0018-0019 14-OCT-1955 (HEA Original Print).
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF/82/1204 F21 0171-0172 02-JUN-1955 (HEA Original Print).
<S7>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 31-DEC-2006 ACCESSED 10-DEC-2018 (Digital).
<S8>LIDAR Airborne Survey: Various. LIDAR Airborne Survey. LIDAR Ickburgh Forest Research 0.5m DTM 15-JUN-2015 (BNG Project, FC England, Fugro Geospatial).

Related records

63067Part of: Second World War military activity at Didlington hall at High Ash training camp (Monument)
63052Related to: Possible Second World War concrete blocks or small structures (Monument)
63054Related to: Possible Second World War concrete blocks or small structures (Monument)
63051Related to: Possible Second World War fenced area (Monument)
63068Related to: Possible Second World War fenced structure (Monument)
63047Related to: Possible Second World War huts (Monument)
63048Related to: Possible Second World War or modern structure (Monument)
63045Related to: Possible Second World War pillbox (Monument)
63043Related to: Possible Second World War rectangular fenced area (Monument)
63058Related to: Possible Second World War structure (Monument)
63046Related to: Possible Second World War structures (Monument)
63082Related to: Second World War military camp and associated training remains (Monument)
62614Related to: Site of Second World War huts (Monument)
62618Related to: Site of Second World War huts (Monument)
63040Related to: Two undated possible pits (Monument)
63042Related to: Undated ditches (Monument)
63041Related to: Undated earthwork bank (Monument)

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