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Tacker SweetingThis piece was written in 1995 by Tacker Sweeting for our VE Day 50th Anniversary Exhibition. Tacker was a local farmer and Chairman of the Parish Council for many years. He was always willing to help the village. Tacker died at the age of 85, but we are sure that he would have been pleased for this to have been included on the village web site.

Soon after the second World War was declared in 1939, the Government asked for men to enlist in the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers). Men in Creech St Michael had to report to Captain Percy at the Old Vicarage. The first assignment set was to be on the look out for fire bombs which had been dropped and Fifth Columnists (spies).

During the first year there were no weapons or uniforms. You just went out with your own shot gun or any other weapon you happened to have. After the first year we began to receive parts of uniforms. Some men would get a pair of trousers, while others would be given a hat or coat. If you were fortunate you might get a rifle between ten men! It was only after about two years that Creech could boast full uniform and each man had a rifle or sten gun.

We were trained by a variety of people and in no time Creech became very good.

On of the first things we took part in was an Army exercise held at the top of Buncombe Hill. Jack Mitchell from our village, had a bus which ran from Creech to Taunton twice a week. So his son Leonard, who was in the LDV said he would drive us to the Quantocks. Off we went after all piling in, all of us thinking how smart we looked! Unfortunately at the bottom of Buncombe Hill the bus proved to be very temperamental. The radiator started boiling like a giant kettle. So out we had to clamber and push the offending bus to the top of the hill. The rest of the battalion thought it a huge joke and laughed uproariously as we struggled along. We felt real fools! However, the bus got us safely home again that night.

Creech, Durston and West Monkton had to guard Cogload Fly Bridge. One guard stood at each end. This was very dangerous as the trains ran across it on a single line track.

One night a member of West Monkton Home Guard thought he heard somebody approaching. He shouted “Who goes there?” to which there was no reply. He repeated the warning twice more with the same result. It was dark and he knew that there was movement not far away, so he shot in the direction of the noise. Luckily he missed! It was one of Mr Norman’s cows! The man never lived that one down.

On another occasion when Creech Home Guard was on duty, they allocated one particular man to be the tea boy. Unused to this duty and not being very bright he used all the tea ration to make one pot. Of course it was completely undrinkable and he was certainly not the most popular person in the world for a long time.

Another night Sgt Bishop had been mounting the guard. It was a very hot night and when he came into camp he was thirsty. He went to the tent and took a long drink before he realised that it was the parafin used for the lamps! He was a sick man for the rest of that night and the following day.

Not many people in the village realised that there were enough bombs stored in the pillbox beside the canal to blow up the entire population of Creech St Michael! Brian Wakely and myself had to take all the bombs to this pillbox from a lorry and along the towpath on a pair of trolleys which had hard wheels. Many of the bombs were 28lb and some were 22lb, but most frightening was the vast quantity of unpredictable Molotov cocktails which were of glass and if broken would obviously catch fire. It was dark when we were transporting our explosive load and we moved with great caution up the old bank. It was not only exertion but fear that made us sweat that night!

One Saturday afternoon in the middle of summer we were milking the cows out in the field when we heard shooting overhead. I looked around to find I was the only human being still sitting there! Everyone else had taken cover.

An enemy plane was being shot at in the sky. Just afterwards it dropped a bomb on Ham. I walked up the road to the farm to see that my father was safe. All the windows in Laburnum Terrace had been smashed and cracked. Later that night I made my way back to Forge Cottage where my wife and I lived. I was very tired and went straight upstairs. I entered the bedroom to find the ceiling covering the bed. I just shook if off and crawled into bed.

Copyright Tacker Sweeting, Creech St Michael 1995