Added March 2010
Major Guy Gilbey Gold of Abbots Hall, Shalford and his Family
Memories by John Harvey
Local Defense Volunteers and the Home Guard
When the LDV was formed, they first paraded outside the George Inn with a mixture of weapons from Major Gold with his 12 bore shotgun down to an African Spear carried by one of the villagers. They collected items such as metal sheep hurdles on wheels from local farmers, a timber carriage (whim) from Eric Tanner the local builder and other large items so they could form a barricade across the road to stop the Germans when they invaded. Everybody at this stage were almost certain they would invade after Dunkirk.
Major Gold became the Officer Commanding (a natural choice) of the Shalford Detachment with Eric Tanner as Quartermaster in the rank of Captain, the cellars of his house when the LDV became the Home Guard, were used to store weapons and ammunition etc.
By the time the Home Guard was formed, the Rev Vaizey, Vicar of Shalford had joined and despite being a Minister of the church used to participate in range shooting that was held in the gravel pits in the village. When my eldest brother Allan came home on his embarkation leave he had to bring his own rifle and all his equipment with him, in case the Germans invaded whilst he was at home. (At this stage of the war, all men going on leave from the services had to take all equipment and weapons with them) By some means, Allan arrived home with boxes of tracer bullets for the Lee Enfield rifles. This caused great excitement. When he saw Major Gold, who had asked for any servicemen from the village to call to see him whilst on leave, he agreed the Home Guard should parade at the gravel pits and fire off all the tracer bullets. My father also went being a Special Constable in the village.
My abiding memory of the Shalford Home Guard was on Armistice Sunday in 1940, 1 was in the choir. The parade to the church from Eric Tanner's builders yard was the largest ever seen in the village. It was led by the British Legion (Wethersfield and Shalford Branch), followed by the Home Guard led by Major Gold wearing his Boer and Great War Medals and then the Wolf Cubs (whose cub-master was John Crittall) Land Army Girls in the village were also there as were the four Special Constables in the village. The Sergeant being Walter Hornsby (my god-father) from the village garage with the three constables being my father, Frank Chambers (Bernards father) local County Council Roads foreman and - Lello, the local milkman from Boydells Farm. The Home Guard actually paraded to the church with their rifles, but of course these could not be taken into the church and were left in the church porch under the charge of Malcolm Wright and George(Squibby) Holmes.
War Damage to Abbots, Hall
During my school holidays I used to enjoy working for Eric Tanner and going out with his workmen on bomb damage repairs. I have clear memories of the damage to Abbots Hal I when a V2 rocket fell in the fields of Goldsticks Farm, opposite the entrance gates to Abbots Hall. The huge crater it caused was evident for many years after the war had finished. When it exploded I was outside the Village Hall with a group of pals and we were all blown over. When I arrived at Abbots Hall later to help the emergency repairs I was placed with my father and Tom Cornell to put roofing felt and batons over the blown out windows. A Bert Prime of Shalford and Harold Jealous from Great Bardfield also working for Eric Tanner, made emergency repairs to the roof.
Major Gold as a person
A typical ex army officer. He called everybody in the village by their surnames (old and young), even when he cycled down to see my father to congratulate him, when my brother Allan's award of the Military Medal was announced in the Essex Chronicle. He was highly respected and admired by the villagers. A most generous man, giving the village its playing fields and village hall and paying for a clock on the village hall in his memory of his son Rodney, killed during the Italian Campaign and buried in the Anzio Cemetery. Like his father he also served in the Essex Yeomanry.
During WWII he was chairman of the Braintree Bench. Even though he had a petrol allowance to attend the Braintree Court, he would always cycle there, maintaining it was his duty not to waste valuable fuel that seamen were risking their lives for in transporting it.
A man of great courage - I will never forget Armistice Sunday 1944. As the names of the men on the War Memorial in the church were read out and for the first time, that of Rodney, his son, I could not help looking across to him as he stood supported by his walking stick. His facial expression never moved, but for the first time, he did not go the George Inn for a post service drink with the British Legion members, going straight home instead.
He became the first President of the Wethersfield and Shalford Branch of the British Legion, my father being its first Chairman.
He allowed the village Wolf Cubs to meet in the tack room of the stables at Abbots Hall for some of their meetings, A beautiful room lined with boards from floor to ceiling with Essex Yeomanry saddles, lances and harness etc on display and polished at all times.
He allowed many village events to be held in his park. The highlight for me was always the display by the volunteer firemen of the Wethersfield Fire Brigade with their polished brass helmets using water pumped from the lake. Their scarlet engine at that time was built by a company called Merryweather. The father of Major Gold's wife Maud (nee Brunner) was the founder of this company
Mrs Maud Gold
I remember her as a most beautiful and kind generous lady. Many of my school prizes whilst I was at the village school were presented by her as Chairman of the School Governors. She never failed to have a kind word with every child on the prize list. When the evacuee children arrived In the village from London complete with one of their teachers she chaired the committee to find them all good homes. I never heard any of the evacuees complain about the people they were temporarily living with.
John W Harvey- Bourne - September 2009