The Second World War

Barkwith at the Outbreak of War

By the start of the Second World War, the population of East Barkwith had declined from the 308 in 1911 to approximately 240. Both East and West Barkwith remained without mains electricity and Parish Council minutes from the time show that there were frequent issues with the water supply.

The railway remained and would be used throughout the war for transporting war materials.

The Fallen

Many people from the parish served during the war and some made the ultimate sacrifice. Click below for information on those lost during World War Two.

Life in Barkwith During The War


Those Who Served

The table holds a list of people associated with the parish, that it is known served in the armed forces during the Second World War.

People who served in other auxiliary forces are mentioned in the respective sections below.

The Railway

The passenger service was suspended between 11th September and 4th December 1939. The freight traffic on the line through East Barkwith was at its busiest during the Second World War when railheads were established at Wragby, South Willingham, Donington-on-Bain and Withcall to supply armaments to the nearby airfields and Hallington was used as a dump for empty shell cases. 

The majority of the munitions delivered by rail came into Donington-on-Bain, which was well suited for this type of traffic due to the village’s position in a valley and between two long tunnels. The quiet little wayside station at Donington, well-equipped with sidings, but from the air as difficult to find as a needle in a haystack, was the perfect spot for the RAF’s bomb transit depot used to supply the many airfields of the Lincolnshire based bomber groups.

No doubt the increased traffic on the line would have generated interest and given its nature, concern amongst the villagers.


As in the First World War, many airfields were established or brought back into service throughout Lincolnshire. The sight and sound of the bomber squadrons passing overhead must have been a constant reminder of the conflict taking place across the channel. 

Air Crash at East Barkwith

On the 29th June 1943 a Lancaster MkIII serial number EE199, with No. 12 Squadron crashed at East Barkwith. The aircraft, coded PH-U, took off at 00:16 on the 29th June from Wickenby bound for a raid on Cologne, but failed to become airborne and crashed, some four miles east of the airfield.

The crew consisted of:

Sgt L.F.Jeffries

Sgt J.Irwin

Sgt C.N.Roy RCAF

P/O E.B.Oldham

Sgt W.T.Seward

Sgt G.W.Addinsall RAAF

Sgt J.M.Seaton

The aircraft was one of a batch of 620 Lancasters ordered from A.V.Roe (Chadderton) in 1941 and built from November 1942 to June 1943 as a mix of Mk.1 and Mk.111 aircraft. The Mk.1s were initially fitted with Merlin 20 and the Mk.111s with Merlin 28 engines. This particular Mk.111 had only just been delivered to 12 Squadron on the 16th June 1943.

On the 29th June the weather was cloudy, fair becoming fine in the evening with visibility moderate becoming very good. An operation was ordered, with eighteen aircraft taking part in a raid on Cologne. PH-U crashed soon after take-off and was wrecked, two members of the crew receiving slight injuries. One further aircraft was lost on the raid. 

Air Raids, ARP and Civil Defence

Although East Barkwith couldn’t be considered a significant potential target for air raids, the frequent movement of munitions on the train line through the village and the ever-present possibility of an ‘off-course’ enemy plane deciding to drop its bombs on a grouping of lights, prior to turning for home, meant that air raid precautions and the blackout had to be observed. During a Parish Council meeting on the 29th May 1940, it was agreed to ask the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Committee of the Rural District Council (RDC) for a lecture on this “vital matter”.

The Parish Council also asked the RDC for a hand pump (for extinguishing fires), which was supplied by the 11th August 1941. The pump required two men to operate it and the council identified four men from the parish who were asked to take on the task.

Air Raid wardens or ARP wardens had the job of patrolling the streets during blackout, to ensure that no lights were visible. When a light was visible, the warden would alert the household responsible by shouting something like "Put that light out!" or "Cover that window!". Wardens could report persistent offenders to the local police. They had a basic uniform consisting of a set of overalls, wellington boots, and an armlet, along with a black steel helmet, and small silver-coloured badge. Prior to the introduction of the overalls, wardens wore their helmets, armlets, and badges on their civilian clothes. From the formation of the ARP until 1939, the badges were made of solid sterling silver, with a crescent-shaped buttonhole attachment for men and a pin style brooch for women. From 1940 onwards, the badges were made of a cheaper metal as silver was in short supply. Later in the war, helmets were provided with the dark blue battledress issued to Civil Defence members. The steel helmets had ‘W’ for Warden in bold white writing across it.

The term ARP was phased out in 1941 in favour of ‘Civil Defence’. The ARP personnel recorded for East and West Barkwith were Mr Wilfred Henry Brackenbury, Mr R. E. Bradley and Mr A Brown. 

Civil Defence

The possibility of an enemy amphibious landing or airbourne invasion was considered a real possibility and everyone was asked to be on the lookout. The church bells were to be rung in the event of an invasion. 

On the 23rd August 1940, at a Parish Council meeting, an action was taken to paint out the words ‘East and West Barkwith’ on the war memorial, to hinder any invading troops, in accordance with the Defence Regulations Act 1940.

Mr W L C Reeve and Rev G W Thom were responsible for Civil Defence in the parishes of East and West Barkwith.


National Fire Service

The Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) was initially formed from volunteers at the outbreak of war, to assist the regular fire brigades. The name was changed to the National Fire Service (NFS) in August 1941 when the regional regular Fire Brigades and the AFS were merged.

In East and West Barkwith, Mr G H Scott, W Scott, E H Scott and Mr Charles Atkin were members of the NFS.

Special Constables

During the war young men and reservists (many police officers were reservists) were needed to join the fighting, which meant that police numbers were significantly reduced, while at the same time the work required was increasing with tasks such as enforcing blackouts, combating black market activity, helping during evacuations and air raids, and hunting deserting soldiers.

The numbers were made up by recruiting reserve or special constables who had the full powers of a normal police officer. 

Home Guard

The Home Guard was originally formed as the Local Defence Volunteers in May 1940, as a backup to the army, to defend the towns and villages of the United Kingdom should the Germans invade. The force generally consisted of men in reserved occupations, those unable to fight due to a medical condition, or those who were too old to fight.

Initially they were poorly armed, often with privately owned or improvised weapons, although this situation improved later in 1940 with the arrival of US-made P17 Enfield and Canadian Ross rifles from the USA.

By November 1941 the Government had introduced military ranks and discipline into the Home Guard, although it still consisted of volunteers, unpaid or part-time soldiers, formed into units to defend their local community, infrastructure and traffic routes. 

The Home Guard locally was under the command of Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Harry Foster, with Joe Poucher second in command until his death. 

 Sergeant Harry Foster of the Home Guard attended a Parish Council meeting on the 11th August 1941, to inform the council that the building site near the YMCA hut in East Barkwith, was required as a training centre. As the land was not at that time the responsibility of the council, he was re-directed to speak to the YMCA.

Dr W. P. Roe provided medical services for the Home Guard, while NCOs included Mr A Davidson, Mr J Garrett, Mr Barker and Mr Campion.

Royal Observer Corps

The Royal Observer Corps was put in place to detect, track, identify and report aircraft over Britain. Initially just titled the ‘Observer Corps’, It was given the 'Royal' title by King George VI in 1941, in recognition of its work during the Battle of Britain during which the volunteer organisation provided RAF Fighter Command with the numbers, type and height of incoming enemy aircraft.

The volunteers had to learn to correctly identify the various types of allied and enemy aircraft, estimate their height and course, and provide an accurate count.

Within East and West Barkwith the Corps was represented by A R Penrose, J Selby, Rev. G W Thom and F Smith.

Women’s Voluntary Services (WVS)

Originally formed in 1938, the Women’s Voluntary Services (WVS) became the largest volunteer organisation in British history. The initial role of the WVS had been to recruit women into the ARP services - providing ambulance drivers, wardens and women to work in first aid and hospital supply depots. However as the numbers of women joining up increased, their duties expanded to include a wide range of activities.

After February 1939 the WVS became the Women's Voluntary Services for Civil Defence. One of the WVS’s roles was not only to help and support civilians, but also to assist and provide comforts to those serving in the armed forces and merchant navy. These comforts took many forms; from jars of jam, chocolate and cigarettes to gloves, balaclavas and boot socks to help keep out the cold. WVS volunteers sewed hundreds of thousands of uniform flashes and darned countless socks. These kindnesses were extended not just to our own troops but to our allies too - soldiers of the Russian Red Army marched in British socks.

In Barkwith, Mrs Roe and Mrs R Duckering are recorded a being members of the WVS.