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THE HENLEY & SOUTH OXFORDSHIRE STANDARD

(There were two Magistrates Courts, namely Henley County Bench and Henley Borough Bench. Captain C.J.Goldmsid sat on the County Bench)

1941 MARCH 14

RAF Works Companies - There is an immediate and special opportunity for men with certain trade qualifications to join the Royal Air Force for service in new RAF Works Companies.

Recruits can be accepted up to the age of 50, and even if they are at present in reserved occupations. Among the trades required are: - bricklayers, plumbers, pipe fitters, steel erectors, electricians, wiremen, drainlayers, concretemen, and groundsmen. Men accepted will be employed in their own trades. Rates of pay are good, and there are, of course, the usual service allowances.

Full particulars can be obtained at the Combined Recruiting Centre, St. Giles School, Reading, Berkshire, to which application for enlistment should be made. The RAF Officers at the Centre will assist in obtaining releases from reserved employment of suitable men.

(Could this be for the building of 70MU at Woodcote)

1942 MARCH 13

Reginald Bernard Martin (32), employed at the time on works at Goring Heath, was sent for trial on a charge of breaking and entering a Y.M.C.A Canteen at Goring Heath and stealing therefrom 13s in money belonging to the YMCA and goods valued at 2s 6d the property of Alfred Edward Snooks.

Supt. Hudson prosecuting said during the night of February 19-20 the canteen at Crays Pond was forcibly entered and the goods referred to in the charge were missed....

(Martin was sent for trial and at the Oxfordshire Quarter Sessions reported April 10 was found not guilty. The 'works at Goring Heath' refers to the building of the Maintenance Unit. The YMCA provided a mobile canteen and a static canteen to help feed the civilian workers employed there. The mobile canteen was parked overnight at Crays Pond)

1943 FEBRUARY 2

L/A/C Robert Blyth of the RAF pleaded guilty to driving a motor lorry without a certificate of insurance, driving the lorry away without the consent of the owners, and having no drivers licence.

Supt. Hudson stated that the defendant took out a RAF articulated lorry without permission and on the way back knocked down a lamp standard. He then returned the lorry to the Maintenance Unit where he was stationed. Defendant, who had nothing to say in court, told Constable Bartholomew that he felt so fed up and miserable that he felt that he had to do something, so he took the lorry out. He knew he hit something on the way back but as the lorry was all right, went back to his Unit. He added that he could drive a little, but never held a drivers licence.

An officer of the defendant's Unit said defendant had been at the camp since last October, and during that period his conduct was fair. Defendant was fined £ 3 for having no insurance, £ 1 for taking the lorry away and 10s for having no licence. He was disqualified from holding a licence for six months. It was stated that the defendant would have to pay the cost of the lamp standard - £ 9 10s.

1943 APRIL 9

Norman Raymond Wilson living at Pangbourne was charged with stealing on April 7 a pair of tailor's scissors belonging to the RAF.

S/Sgt. Deeble gave evidence of searching defendant and finding on him a dozen tins of metal polish, while Detective Constable Smith read a statement alleged to have been made by Wilson. In this he stated that a man named Cohen asked him to get a pair of scissors and he took a pair and gave them to him. Cohen said that they were not the type he wanted; he wanted a black handled pair of tailor's scissors. He got a pair of these from a boy he knew and gave them to Cohen. Wilson was remanded on bail for 14 days.

Alfred Cohen, giving a London address, was then charged with stealing a dozen tins of metal polish belonging to the RAF. Detective Constable Smith read a statement alleged to have been made by Cohen. In this he admitted asking Wilson to get him the scissors after Wilson had asked him for some metal polish.

It was stated that the pair of scissors referred to had not yet been recovered. Cohen was also remanded on bail for 14 days.

1943 APRIL 30

Norman Raymond Wilson and Alfred Aaron Cohen, two former employees of a RAF Maintenance Unit appeared on bail charged with the theft of articles belonging to the RAF. Wilson pleaded guilty to stealing a pair of scissors and receiving 12 tins of metal polish while Cohen pleaded guilty to receiving the scissors, stealing another pair of scissors, a tin of floor polish and 2 torch batteries on divers dates.

Fining Wilson £ 1 on each offence and Cohen £ 3 for each offence, the Chairman said theft of Government stores amounted almost to sabotage.

1943 JUNE 11

A 16 year old Goring boy admitted stealing a 5s postal order and a drivers licence, the property of Mrs Lily Simmonds, of the Hamlet, Gallowstree Common, and with stealing a ball race and ball bearings valued at 10s, the property of the Air Ministry.

Mrs.Simmonds, a police woman at RAF MU stated that she had placed the postal order and her driver's licence in the central registry at the MU.

Sgt. Arlett said that the boy attempted to cash the postal order without success. He made a statement admitting both offences.

The boy, who was previously bound over for 2 years at Reading in December last for larceny, was given a bad report, and he was sent to a remand home to await a vacancy in an approved school.

1944 JULY 21

At an occasional sitting of the Henley County Bench on Saturday, before the Mayor of Henley (Alderman C.Luker) John Raymond Kennedy, employed at a RAF Maintenance Unit, was charged with obtaining from the Air Ministry on June 8th the sum of £ 1 0s 5d in respect of overtime and subsistence by means of false entries on a journey permit and time sheet. There was a similar charge in respect of 16s on June 10th.

Evidence of the arrest was given by Detective Constable Smith. The accused was remanded on bail to appear at the Henley County Bench on July 27th.

1944 JULY 28

John Raymond Kennedy, Goring Heath, was charged with obtaining 19s 1d from the Air Ministry by false pretences by false entries on a journey permit and time sheet on June 8th. There was a similar charge in respect of 16s on June 10th. He pleaded not guilty to each charge.

Superintendent Hudson, who prosecuted, said the defendant was employed as a motor transport driver. On June 8th he booked out of his Unit at 17.15 hours saying he was making deliveries to White Waltham, Burnham and Slough, when in fact he went straight to Maidenhead and stayed the night, making the deliveries the following morning. The effect was that he was paid overtime and subsistence to which he was not entitled.

(Evidence was given to prove the offences including an un-named man who said that the delivery that he signed for was for six tyres and Kennedy signed the dispatch note. Kennedy, in his defence, said that on leaving the Unit, he had stomach pains and retired to bed at Maidenhead until he felt better. The case was proved and Kennedy was fined £ 2 and costs of £ 1 5s)

1945 DECEMBER 21

Flight Officer M.Baynes-Rees, WAAF, No.70 Maintenance Unit, Goring Heath, was fined 5s for riding a pedal cycle during the hours of darkness without a rear light.

1946 JANUARY 25

Fines totalling 30s each were imposed on L/A/C T.Hargreaves of No.70 Maintenance Unit, Goring Heath,..........., each of whom was summoned for having no front light and no rear light.

1946 MAY 10

Leslie William Smith, lodging in Reading, whose home address was stated to be 59 Woodland Way, West Wickham, Kent pleaded guilty to two charges of stealing from the No.70 Maintenance Unit, Goring Heath property valued at £ 49 9s 7d in one case and £ 5 4s in the other. Two alternative charges of being in unlawful possession of goods were withdrawn.

It was stated that the articles and property on view in court were only part of those mentioned in the charges, the remainder, too much to bring into the courtroom, being on a lorry outside.

Inspector Morris stated that the defendant was employed at No.70 Maintenance Unit as a lorry driver. On April 24th Detective Sergeant Huxtable and another Air Ministry Police Officer made enquiries respecting a nearly new tyre on the defendant's car. They searched the car in his presence and found another property, then went to his home in West Wickham, where the remainder was recovered. He made a statement that he had taken the property between 1942 and 1946.......

(He was found guilty and fined £ 10 on each of the two charges)

1946 SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER

(There were further auction sales of surplus motor vehicles held at the old RAF airfield at Mount Farm in each month. The types of vehicles and prices made were similar to those reached and copied in the 1949 sale)

1947 MARCH 26

Henley RDC Minutes - Criticism of No.70 Maintenance Unit, the RAF Depot at Goring Heath, was voiced by several members at Tuesday's meeting of the Henley Rural District Council, it being stated that the presence of the Unit was a waste of public money, that it restricted available accommodation and aggravated the labour position.

The matter arose through the discussion of the suggested compulsory purchase of a housing site at Whitchurch. Major G.H.H Taunton-Collins asking why Whitchurch was so low on the list of priorities, particularly as accommodation was impossible to obtain in the village, on top of which nearby was the 70MU, employees of which lodged in the area.

(There then followed discussion on land already purchased for the building of Council Houses; procedures were discussed, etc.)

Captain C.J.Goldsmid raised the question of 70MU. In view of the fact that 70MU had already been referred to by Major Taunton-Collins, he said, he invited the Council to take some view regarding the Unit. Its presence in the area aggravated the stringent housing position, and the continuance of the Unit in the same place was a great waste of public money and restricted accommodation.

He suggested that the Council write to the Air Ministry asking if, in the interests of housing, a matter which was giving the Council great difficulty, it was intended to vacate the site in the near future.

Mr.Marriott supported the line of action, claiming that the existence of the Unit was 'a terrible waste of public money'. In addition he said 15 to 20 buses were used every day to bring, he would not say work people, but employees to the site, at which there were employed some 20-30 policemen. The roads in the area were worn out, and after some months and by dint of great pressure, something was at last being done in this respect, although the road surface was still appalling and the flooding bad. 'It is galling for us who live in the area to see the waste of money which goes on there' Mr.Marriott said 'Vast dumps of material lie at the sides of the road, and it is reaching the proportions of a public scandal.'

(The meeting went on to suggest that they wrote to the Air Ministry to find out when they intended to vacate the site; to enquire the costs of running the site, etc. A copy of the letter would be sent to the Henley MP, Sir Gifford Fox)

Captain Goldsmid said that a RAF Officer called to see him the other day and informed him that he was very anxious to obtain a tin of paint to be used at the RAF Rehabilitation Centre at Mongewell Park, and so asked for some paint at the Unit. 'Although the Unit had a shed 35 feet by 40 feet filled with it, he was not able to get one tin' Captain Goldsmid said.

Commander R.H.Overy thought this was quite normal, but added that if the Navy had needed the paint, they would have broken in.

Mr.F.Parson said many of the employees at 70MU were lodging in Woodcote. He thought that they could be turned out and the Unit closed down.

1947 APRIL 11

(There was a sale of Government Surplus motor vehicles at Mounts Farm; the ex RAF airfield)

1947 MAY 23

A discussion concerning No.70 Maintenance Unit, the RAF Depot at Goring Heath, by the Henley Rural District Council, who at a recent meeting recommended that it be closed down, has been followed by questions in the House of Commons, by Sir Gifford Fox, MP, for the Henley Division.

He was told by Mr.Noel Baker that eleven buses were used to take employees to the Unit, eight of these being service vehicles. The daily cost was about twelve pounds of which four fifths was paid by the employees. During April the number of people using the buses was about 320 a day.

Asked by Sir Gifford Fox why vast dumps of material lie at the sides of the road at the Unit, Mr.Noel Baker said the Unit in question was a Ground Equipment Depot. Unfortunately there was not enough covered space for all the stores which the Unit had to hold, and those at least liable to deteriorate were kept in the open, tarpaulins being used where necessary.

Replying to another question by Sir Gifford Fox, Mr.Noel Baker said 484 civilians were employed at the Unit. None lived in government owned houses, and his Department had not asked the Henley Rural District Council to allocate more Council Houses at Whitchurch to people in Air Ministry Employ.

Sir Gifford Fox then asked the annual cost of the Unit, indicating rent, maintenance and wages, and what was the capital cost of erecting the 'tin shanties'.

Mr.Noel Baker - 'The annual cost of No.70 Maintenance Unit is as follows: - Compensation rental £ 100; maintenance £ 5,000; salaries and wages £ 125,000; total £ 130,100. The cost of building the storage sheds was £ 200,000.'

In reply to a further question regarding the establishment and the value of the goods stored Mr.Noel Baker told Sir Gifford Fox that the numbers at present employed were as follows: - RAF Police NIL; Air Ministry Constabulary 27; RAF Officers 10; Airmen 3; civilians 484 (including 23 part time). The value of the goods stored at the Depot was about £ 2,000,000.

1947 MAY 30

Henley RDC Minutes - The Committee also reported the receipt of a letter from the Air Ministry informing the Council that the question of the number and location of units required for the storage of RAF equipment was being considered and regretting that it was not possible to give any indication as to the future of 70MU at Goring Heath.

Major Stonor said he understood there was a possibility of the Unit being closed down, but he added that he knew nothing of this officially.

(The meeting continued to complain about the Unit and its effect on the locality. A question was raised on the possibility of whether or not the Air Ministry would be prepared to pay rates on the site)

1947 DECEMBER 12

(There was a sale of Government Surplus motor vehicles at Mounts Farm; the ex RAF airfield)

1947 DECEMBER 26

In the House of Commons Sir Gifford Fox asked the Secretary of Sate for Air whether he is aware that a quantity of paint recently purchased from No.70 Maintenance Unit, Goring Heath, was full of water and worthless, and in view of this evidence of the condition of the stores there, if he will consider dispersing the establishment.

Mr.A.Henderson replied 'I am informed that the Ministry of Supply recently sold, as scrap, some paint from this depot which had been condemned some time before because of age and therefore had been stored in the open. This is not representative of the contents of the Depot, which contains about one million pounds worth of technical stores of various kinds for the Royal Air Force. The last part of the question does not therefore arise.'

1948 JANUARY 2

Henley RDC Minutes - Captain Goldsmid referred to the recent purchase of paint from the No.70 Maintenance Unit, RAF, at Goring Heath, and said that this had to be sent back. Sir Gifford Fox, MP had asked the question on the subject in the House of Commons and was told that 'the Ministry of Supply recently sold as scrap, some paint from this Depot which had been condemned sometime before because of age and therefore had been stored in the open'.

'That was rather a shock to me' Capt. Goldsmid said 'and I referred to the catalogue and I searched everywhere for the word 'scrap'. The words I found in bold letters were 'new and unused stores'; there was no mention of the word 'scrap'. It appears the Ministry is deceiving the public by selling 'scrap' as 'new and unused' - 'unusable' perhaps they meant.'

(Capt. Goldsmid went on to say that he wished to propose a resolution for the next meeting along the lines that the Council viewed with concern the survival so long after the War of the Maintenance Unit, and that in their opinion its continuance involved a waste of material and man power, aggravated the local housing and labour problems, and spoilt the amenities of the District)

Mr.E.Challis said that the paint was bituminous and exposure to frost had resulted in water getting into it.

1948 MAY 21

Oxfordshire County Council Minutes - The County Planning Committee reported that the Ministry of Town and County Planning have asked for the Council's observations on the retention by the Air Ministry of the site of No.3 Maintenance Unit satellite, Woodcote, Oxon for the use as a storage depot. In this connection the Committee had before them a resolution passed by the Henley Rural District Council at its meeting on February 24 1948 in the following terms: -

'That this Council views with concern the survival so long after the end of hostilities of No.3 Maintenance Unit, RAF, Goring Heath, and is of the opinion that its continuance involves a waste of material, and man power, aggravates the local housing and labour problems, and spoils the amenities of the District'.

(The Committee agreed with the resolution and agreed to write to the Ministry of Town and County Planning in the strongest terms)

It was, said Mr.Denham, on a par with the unnecessary retention of large parts of the commons and woodlands in many places.

1948 AUGUST 6

(There was a sale of Government Surplus motor vehicles at Mounts Farm; the ex RAF airfield)

1948 NOVEMBER 5

(There was a sale of Government Surplus motor vehicles at Mounts Farm; the ex RAF airfield)

1948 DECEMBER 31

(There was a sale of Government Surplus motor vehicles at Mounts Farm; the ex RAF airfield)

1949 JANUARY

15th sale of motor vehicles at Mounts Farm on 28th January.

Hillman  10hp £ 380
Standard  12hp £ 300
Hillman Utility  14hp £ 340
Bedford Luton Van £ 310
Morris  8hp £ 240
Austin  10hp £ 230
Morris  12hp £ 380
Austin  8hp £ 260
Morris Ambulance £ 350
Ford  10hp £ 300

1950 APRIL 21

(Public Enquiry at Henley Town Hall into the future of the site at Woodcote by Sir Geoffrey Whiskard, KCB, CMG, of the Ministry of Town and County Planning)

RAF Station, Woodcote, was established during the late war and for the most parts consists of large storage sheds situated in woods along side various highways north of Goring Heath. There are 41 sheds providing nearly 250,000 square feet of covered storage.

In addition there is an administration and domestic site, with related sewage works, and the total area of the unit is 176 acres.

The Unit's function is a depository storage unit for barrack furniture which it supplies to all RAF stations in the Southern half of England. It is under the administrative control of No.3 Maintenance Unit at Milton, Abingdon.

Apart from a small controlling staff of RAF Officers the Unit is civilian maintained, with a strength of about 320. The civilian employees live in the neighbouring towns and villages and are brought daily to the site in special buses.

Acting as spokesman for the Air Ministry, Group Captain C.Broughton recalled that Maintenance Units of the RAF contributed enormously to the success of the Battle of Britain by servicing and equipping Hurricanes and Spitfires. At Woodcote, he said, the old objectionable stores of paint and 'dope' had been removed and in place furniture stocks had steadily been built up. Everyone was aware of the great amount of re-organisation that had to be carried out as a result of commitments arising from the late war and this re-organisation affected the RAF strategy and tactics downwards.

(He then gave details of the volumes of goods received in and dispatched out of Woodcote for 1949, and a few months of 1950; the importance that Woodcote would play with the equipping of married quarters; and the cost of re-establishing it elsewhere; and the 'you could not ignore the possibility of another war')

It was estimated that the cost to the Air Ministry of relinquishing the use of the Maintenance Unit at Woodcote and establishing it elsewhere would be half a million pounds. The Air Ministry spokesman said there was a need for a depot at Woodcote or within 20 miles of it.

(There were complaints from ramblers and other users of the Rights of Way etc which crossed the sites. They were told that their Rights of Way were not affected)

Group Captain Broughton told the Inspector that there was no intention of fencing any of the land on the two storage sites; the only fenced portion was the Administrative Site. He also expressed the view that in the event of mobilisation it would be highly improbable that furniture would remain at the Unit.

(There was a general question and answer session, including questions as to whether or not there was a current need for a depot with such woodland camouflage)

In answer to questions Group Captain Broughton told the Committee that the Air Ministry, whatever the result of the enquiry, would have the use of the land for a further two years. The sheds were suitable for all RAF equipment, except planes and explosives.

(They then discussed the volumes of traffic; and the standard of the 'B' roads)

When Mr.R.W.H.Mellor, the County Surveyor, gave evidence on the roads in the area, all of which were 'B' classification, he produced a model of one of the road junctions on the route to the unit, together with a model of a 'Queen Mary' articulated vehicle to illustrate the traffic problems arising. He agreed with the Inspector that there had been no increase in accidents since the establishment of the Unit.

(Two current owners of requisitioned land made statements. It appears that no one else did)

Sir Charles Rose, owner of part of the requisitioned land, said when he purchased the land in 1944 he was informed that the Air Ministry would shortly be giving up the requisition. He was in the process of dedicating the land he owned on the site in perpetuity for timber production.

Captain C.J.Goldsmid, owner of a house near the site, and Chairman of the Henley Rural District Council, said when the requisition was made in 1941 he was informed by the Air Ministry that the requisition would terminate at the end of hostilities. When the war ended it seemed that the Unit stores changed from war time stores to peace time stores. There was an impression locally that the men employed at the Unit did not have enough to do. He also referred to 'clouds of anthracite fumes and smoke' from the Administrative buildings and noise from low geared vehicles.

1950 DECEMBER 1

(There was a paragraph indicating that Henley RDC was still awaiting a decision from the above Public Enquiry)

1959 NOVEMBER 27

There have been three recent appeals against the decision of the Oxfordshire County Council with reference to properties in the Woodcote area. Captain C.J.Goldsmid appealed against the decision of the Oxfordshire County Council to refuse the retention and use for agricultural purposes of buildings Nos 5 and 19A-19G (inclusive) on land south east of Woodcote.

It was the view of the Woodcote Parish Council and other people that these buildings which could not be seen from public roads should be allowed to remain. After hearing the result of the enquiry held by his Inspector, the Minister decided to allow the appeal.

1960 APRIL 29

Henley RDC Minutes - The Report of the General Purposes Committee reported the receipt of a letter from Goring Heath Parish Council protesting against the alleged nuisance caused by go-kart racing on the concrete areas at the former RAF Maintenance Unit site.