The Hidden Heritage of High Lodge

Records of the Canadian Forestry Corps, part 2

A number of file copies of correspondence between 126 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps and other offical bodies have survived and are now kept by the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa (LAC reference RG9 Series III-B-1 vol 2474 file A-31-32 ).

A selection that pertain to activities around High Lodge have been abstracted and are presented below.

19 July 1918

Drawing of bridge over Ouse River, Downham Hall

19 July 1918

Plan of proposed lines to mill, Downham Hall. Narrow gauge line to be cribbed as this is cheaper than building trestles, and will hold weight of the locomotive.

2 September 1918

Delay in getting pump water supply to replace off-take from polluted River Ouse.

3 September 1918

offer to treat hard water with patent “Anti-Calcaire”.

4 September 1918

River water supply being quite unfit, water is drawn from well and delivered by water cart.

12 September 1918

Design [not included] for hutment for Women's Legion drivers.

12 September 1918

Women's Legion to comprise 4 drivers and one cook.

17 September 1918

Prisoner of War hutment to proceed with the minimum of delay. To provide for 150 prisoners.

16 September1918

Only one lady driver currently attached, and sufficient for present.

25 foot Armstrong hut erected at Downham Hall for use of Women's Legion. One other hut in use by YMCA.

17 September 1918

126 Company at Downham Hall to comprise 5 Officers and 181 other ranks.

Prisoner of War detachment to comprise 150 prisoners with a guard of 2 officers and 3 Other Ranks.

Portable huts to be erected, made by CFC Company at Sunningdale, Windsor.

Regulation barbed wire entanglement to be constructed around site of PW hutment. Prisoners to be housed in tents within wire entanglement until 31 October, guards to be in tents outside wire.

16 September 1918

Permission sought to wire Downham Hall for electric lighting. Wires to be run outside and through windows to that 'the interior need not be defaced'.

18 September 1918

To Col. Savage, 23 Swallow St, London W1, enclosing [not present] sketch showing clearance for channel and overhead clearance for towing path at bridge over Little Ouse river at Santon Downham and east of Santon Downham.

19 September 1918

Request for Fire Officer to visit Downham Hall to advise on fire protection.

23 September 1918

Warren Hill [Ampthill, Beds] unable to supply posts for PW wire entanglement.

19 September 1918

Style of accommodation [for women drivers] seems elaborate and expensive - D.O.R.E Bury St Eds to communicate directly to avoid delay. [D.O.R.E - District Office Royal Engineers ]

25 September 1918

Request for telephone facilities to link Downham Hall to Sandy [Beds].

25 September 1918

Request for telephone at Downham Hall to be linked to exchange in Brandon before arrival of Prisoners of War.

27 September 1918

Request for pipes to link 30,000 gallon water tank near Downham Hall to PoW hutment.

27 September 1918

Plan of hutment for Women's Legion drivers currently being put up at 22 locations in Great Britan – deemed to be minimum acceptable standard. [no plan attached].

27 September 1918

Request for hut lent to Ampthill depot to be returned to Downham Hall for use of Women's Legion drivers.

27 September 1918

PoW numbers to be increased to 200

27 September 1918

indent for material for water supply:

  • Pipe, W.I. 2” 40 feet
  • Pipe, W.I. 1½” 2150 feet
  • Elbows, 2” 6 off
  • Elbows, 1½” 12 off
  • Pump, Gould, vertical belt driven, 4x5 1 off
  • Engine Kerosene C.P Kinnell 4HP 1 off
  • Pipe, W.I. 1” 2105 feet.

30 September 1918

Material on indent to be sent from Catford stores to Downham Hall.

26 September 1918

Sanitary report on camp for 126 Coy. Can For Corps, Downham Hall

  • latrines are not fly proof
  • Shower batch are not supplied with hot water
  • Incinerators incapable of disposing of garbage ad night soil. Need to be four, or preferably 6 times larger than at present. Until rectified, night soil to be buried.
  • No facility for sick bay. No drugs at camp, but they have been requisitioned.

30 September 1918

Royal Engineers Bury St Edmunds, Thetford [sic] to supply 1 tons barbed wire immediately.

Col Savage, Commanding Royal Engineer, Canadian Forestry Corps and Captain Paramor RE to visit Downham Hall Thursday next. Motor car to meet 11.20 am train at Brandon.

30 September 1918

Bridge crossing the Ouse nearer Thetford has been strengthened in connection with the chemical factory. Similar works proposed for bridge at Santon Downham. Headway at Santon Downham to be no less than that of the upstream bridge.

1st October 1918

Col Savage to obtain details concerning light railway and occupation road across the private bridge and across railway. Copy of sketch to be sent to Clerk of Ouse Navigation Board.

1 October 1918

Accommodation approved from Women's Legion motor car drivers.

4 October 1918

Request for exension to telephone line at Downham Hall to the sawmill, which is “situated at about ¾ mile from Downham Hall, and alongside the Great Eastern Company's line”. [So not as on the sketch of proposed railway lines of 19 July]

3 October 1918

Men's Baths: Hot water supply not sanctioned for camps of short duration
Electric lighting: to be run fro a dynamo at the mill “which will shortly be in operation”.
Prisoner of War compound: as labour is short, this will have to be built by the prisoners. During build, they could be billeted at the National Schools, Brandon and taken to and from by CFC lorries.
A road is required to access the PoW compound.
No tools are available to erect wire or build huts, the following were requested:-

  • Chests, tool, filled, carpenters 6
  • Chests, tool, filled, bricklayers 2
  • Chests, tool, filled, plumbers 1
  • Chests, tool, filled, painters 1
  • Axes, felling 6
  • Gloves, hedging 24
  • Wire cutters 6
  • Pliers, wire cutting 6
  • Shovels 24
  • Picks 12

Water supply PoW: Suggestion that an artesian well would be better than pumping from Downham Hall. Duke & Ockenden to be asked if they could sink the well.

Water supply, Downham Hall: Hall, gardens and four houses are supplied by water pumped from the river by a 10HP pump supplying 8000 gallons a day. This is inadequate - should CFC take over operation and allow landlord to take water for his and tenants' needs?

7 October 1918

Recommendation that CFC pay for the Hall's current engineer to operate the steam pump to supply an extra 6000 gallons a day to the 30000 gallon military tank.

7 October 1918

Requisition for tools listed on 3 October

7 October 1918

Road linking PoW hutment to Thetford road too expensive. Cold a shorter link be made to road linking Downham Hall with Brandon? Or could a light railway be laid, with gravel path alongside for foot traffic? Estimate for artesian well £500. Pump to supply from Downham Hall will cost £70, pipe work from stock.

6 October 1918

Royal Engineers provide plan and list of materials for PoW camp. [plan not attached]
Repeat request for Artesian well

  Use for huts No & Size of huts Number of 24’x16’ huts required
  Sleeping 20 24’x16’ 20
  Dining Room 2 60’x16’ 5
  Cookhouse 1 30’x16’
  Food store 1 6’x16’ ¼
  Bath & Ablution 1 24’x16’ 1
  Hospital 1 24’x16’ 1
  Sleeping 4 24’x16’ 4
  Dining room 1 48’x16’ 2
  -do- NCO 1 24’x16’ 1
  Cookhouse 1 30’x16’
  Food Store 1 12’x16’ ½
  Bath & Ablution 1 24’x16’ 1
  Sleeping 2 24’x16’ 2
  Dining Room 1 24’x16’ 1
  Cookhouse 1 18’x16’ ¾
  Offices 1 24’x16’ 1
  Stores 1 24’x16’ 1
  Guard & Detention Room 1 24’x16’ 1

8 October 1918

From Col Savage, Commanding Royal Engineer, Canadian Forestry Corp, Director Timber Operations, 25 Swallow St, London W1
I am glad to receive the plan which you sent me drawn by Sgt Dunn on a scale of 25 inches to the mile showing the light railway line of the CFC over the private bridge and round to the mill, and also the track of the wooden built-up causeway for the light railway, also the track into the forest.
There are, however, several dotted red lines and no allusion to them is made o the plan. Could you tell me what they represent? There are several of them in the vicinity of the Home Farm and also one branch red line to B.M.25.2. What does that represent?
As soon as I understand the plan I will send it on to Mr Wilmor. I would also like you to say that will be no impediment to persons crossing our light railway in order to go on foot to St Helen's church, and they can cross it on foot a few yards higher up on the level, but driving would not be convenient.

8 October 1918

Pipes and pumps have been shipped to Downham Hall

9 October 1918

Duke & Ockenden have estimated for a plant much more capable than required. In the arrangement being provide for by CFC, provision must be made for full draining of system and plant to avoid frost damage The road will be discussed with OC 126Coy. It would appear cheaper to build a light road from NW angle of The Square to debouch on the Brandon – Downham Hall Road.

12 October 1918

From Col Savage to DACTS Transport, Timber Supply Dept, 80 Newman St, W1
I forward you herewith plans showing the course which out light 3 feet gauge railway will take. There does not seem to be any place where the timber causeway or the light railway will seriously interfere with local traffic.
You have had the sections of our temporary bridge strengthened over the Little Ouse River, and you also have a sketch showing the bridge headway.

If Mr Houchin wished for any increased facilities for footpath or road traffic, I am sure Major Kenny will do anything that is possible.

12 October 1918

CFC can supply hot water apparatus. If electric lighting s required CFC must supply and fit as DORE has urgent requirements outstanding from April 1917.

12 October 1918

Confirmed that Downham Hall is insured against fire and war risks

14 October 1918

Suggestion of road from NW angle of the square concurred to, to be requisitioned from CRE Cambridge. [CRE - Commander Royal Engineers]

15 October 1918

Railway siding at Santon Downham approved at cost of £2642.

15 October 1918

Provision of telephone at sawmill approved

16 October 1918

Bill for putting pumping engine into working order amounts to £22-14-4. Expanation required as to itemisation of the bill.

16 October 1918

Extension telephone to be provided for PoW camp.

15 October 1918

Railway co urged to proceed specially with the work of connection.

22 October 1918

CFC have constructed no hutment at West Tofts nearest hutment is Downham Hall

[ 7th October memo complains about state of drainage at West Toft PoW camp]

17 October 1918

Railway siding to be extended from Railway Coy property by 30 car lengths.

24 October 1918

Railway Co will lay in the etension. CFC to supply list of materials required, DACTS transport will arrange supply.

31 October 1918

PoW hutment expected to be ready for use in about a week. Are stoves to be supplied?

29 October 1918

Wiring of Downham Hall in hand. Dynamo already fixed.

1 November 1918

Requirements for siding are:

  • 64 30ft rails 80lb steel
  • 128 plates
  • 256 bolts with nuts
  • 352 sleepers
  • 704 Chairs (2 hole)
  • 1408 Spikes
  • 1408 Hollow tree nails

It is essential to complete siding ASAP so shipping will not be held up when mill is in opersation

6 November 1918

PoW hutments practically complete apart from same glazing. Stoves expected this week, but only to be installed I Dining and recreation huts. Water yet to be connected.

9 November 1918

Sanction granted for hut for Women's Legion drivers.

6 November 1918

PoW huts now ready for use. Water and stoves installed, barbed wire entanglement in position.

7 November 1918

West Suffolk County Council grant permission for the light railway to cross the Brandon to Thetford Main Road provided: railway to be laid at right angles to and level with the road surface; check rails to be inserted to retain material on centre in position which is to be made up with tarred granite; the outside margin to be made up with tarred material for a width of between 12 and 16 inches and 3 to 4 inches in thickness; the military authority to indemnify the County Council for all claims and accidents; crossing to be removed and road re-instated when haling of timber is complete.

18 November 1918

Canadian authorities do not think hot water arrangements are suitable.

18 November 1918

Board of Trade, Timber Supply Dept ask for clarification, and plan, of level crossing, as it is “obviously” not related to Santon Downham.

20 November 1918

Reply to Timber Supply dept with plan of light railway showing level crossing [no plan attached]

31 January 1919

Railway siding has been complete for the last two weeks and timber is being shipped.

18 March 1919

The owners of Downham Hall are very anxious to get possession of the mansion house. Operations to be taken over by a syndicate

24 March 1919

Immediately our department ceases to operate at Downham Hall the manor house will be turned over as requested. This should be inside a week or ten days.

31 March 1919

Approximate statement of value of Downham Hall operation.
Item Cost
Purchase price of standing timber £69808-0-0
Labour, Canadian, including rations, clothing and pay. 28700 days @ $2.91 per day £17149-5-8 ½
Labour, attached, including rations and pay 25216 days at 2/7 per day £3127-1-4
Value of Horses £3480-0-0
Forage used by horses 10934 days @ 5/- per day £2733-10-0
Value of Mill Buildings and Huts, with Engineering services £4611-0-0
Technical Equipments including mill machinery locomotive, rails etc. £9500-0-0
  £110408-17-0 ½
To the above should be added work of horses @ 8/- per day for 10935 days £4374-0-0
TOTAL £114782-17-0 ½
Less value of timber shipped 55M @ £16 per M £860-0-0
  £113902-17-0 ½

28 March 1919

The proprietors now propose to take back the whole operation and to take over the sawmill, rails and pay the costs of the operation up to date.