Preserve the Dallington Forest POW Tree!

(posted on behalf of our Tree Warden, Doug Edworthy)

The Dallington Forest ‘PoW’ Tree
Photo of POW treeJust inside Dallington Forest, and close to a public bridleway, there is a culturally-important tree that is not well known in the area – perhaps because it is difficult to find without guidance. We have Tree Warden-led walks into the Forest that take in this tree – so come along on the next walk!

As part of the Dallington Forest Project I’m attempting to gather all relevant information together to document it for the benefit of current and future generations before it is lost to the ravages of time and decay.

Known locally as the ‘PoW Tree’ this is a veteran pollarded Beech tree, probably around 250 years old, that is rapidly approaching an untimely end. Much of the interior of the trunk’s base has been hollowed-out by fungi, and the opinion of an experienced arborist is that the trunk will fail catastrophically within the next few years.

The tree gets its name from graffiti carved on its trunk some 3 m off the ground. The inscription (presumably by a prisoner of war from Cologne, Germany) reads: –

TB
KÖLN
1946
P.O.W.

There was a German Prisoner of War Working Camp GPWW 145 situated at Normanhurst Court, Battle, less than 10 miles away, continuing to hold prisoners until 1948.

I understand that the Normanhurst PoW camp supplied labour to the Gypsum Mines at Mountfield and, at the time, much of Dallington Forest was under the management of the Mine. It is not inconceivable that parties of PoWs would have been employed as foresters and, perhaps during a lunch break, one of them climbed the tree to leave his indelible mark for posterity.

Who was ‘TB’? Or was the graffiti artist’s name actually ‘T.B.KÖLN’? Perhaps records could solve the riddle of his identity.

Sadly, I understand that most of the records of the PoW camps’ occupants were destroyed after the war. Was this related to the slow repatriation of Axis forces to German and elsewhere compared to the relatively speedy repatriation of PoWs back to the UK? Is there a darker political secret waiting to be unearthed? It would be interesting to find out.

Before this tree falls and is lost – it could be in a gale this autumn – we have a limited opportunity to document and record this culturally-important tree for posterity.

For example; wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a bark rubbing done of the inscription that could be framed and displayed together with information about the tree and the inscriber in the Brightling and Dallington Village Halls?

And we need urgently a good photographic record to show not just the details of the inscription but the tree in its surroundings and context.

Help from amateur (or professional) archivist and historians would be very welcome to research such records as exist of the Normanhurst Court PoW camp, its occupants and the Gypsum Mine and its management so that we can add more of the human dimension to the history of this tree.

If you would like to help please contact Doug Edworthy, Brightling & Dallington Tree Warden at treewarden@dallington.org.uk

Doug Edworthy
Tree Warden, Brightling & Dallington Parishes
Dallington Forest Project

If you would like to print out this information to share it more widely, you can download it as a PDF flyer here  Dallington PoW Tree

Have you got a question for the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner?

Click on the link below for details of the chance to pose questions to the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner in person at a meeting next month.
The deadline for receiving qustions is mid-day 21.09.18.
The meeting will also be webcast live – details in the link helow.
Have you got a question for the Police and Crime Commissioner

Village news October 2018

Church services in October

  • Sunday 7th           11am.              Service of The Word
  • Sunday 14th        6.30pm.         Harvest Festival
    Followed by Harvest Supper in the church
  • Sunday 21st          11am.            Holy Communion
  • Sunday 28th        9.30am.       Holy Communion

A follow-up note from the Flower Festival in August:
Pam (Fuller) and her friend Audrey Milton, thought that it would be kind to let Her Majesty The Queen know that our Festival had been in her honour, and to let her know how we all thanked her for her service. A reply has been received, from Balmoral, and it is lovely to think that, on her summer holiday, The Queen read the letter and took time to reply. A wonderful reminder of a brilliant weekend.

Old School Village Hall.
The library cafe on Monday afternoons is proving to be very popular. The first Saturday morning opening will be on October 6th, 10am until noon, when, as well as tea and biscuits, there will be cakes and scones. Do come along as the bookshelves are full of good reading.
There will be a Quiz Night on November 17th, in the hall at 7 for 7.30pm. Refreshments and a raffle, please bring your own drinks. Cost £7.50 per person.

Flower Club.  The next meeting will be on Thursday October 4th at 2pm in The Old School. The subject will be an exhibit featuring water. Do come and join this friendly group.

Art Club Another friendly group! We meet every Monday morning  in the Old School Village Hall from 10-12. Everyone free to work at their own pace, on their own projects or from still life materials brought by the tutor.

WI.  The Planning Meeting was held in August and we have, hopefully, set out a calendar of events and Speakers for the next year. Our October meeting will be on Thursday 18th at 2.15pm in the hall. Visitors are always welcome.