Monday 25 April 2011

Extracts from ‘1938, Somerset’s Secret War’ By Dick Skeggs

Before I go any farther let me tell you a bit of the Somerset Freedom Fighters history. This was told to me by CT, Wally and one or two others I got to know.The Somerset Freedom Fighters started in the 1920s to try and stop Church bailiffs collecting a tithe call Queen Anne’s Bounty. In the beginning they didn’t have a name, they were just a group of men looking out for each other. The name came from the editor of the Weston Daily Press who attacked them in an editorial
‘… Who do these men think they are? Mexican bandits, The Somerset Freedom Fighters?’ and the name stuck.

Mrs Ook (not her rear name) was another great find. Her cake shop not only had the best shortbread biscuits in the west country, but her upstairs tea room over looked the BUF offices in Bristol. From here I could watch all the comings and goings in comfort, with a nice cup of tea. The tea shop quickly became an extension of the BUF canteen and Mrs Ook always had some great titbits of conversation for me. Mr Ook had fallen fowl of the BUF very early in their rise to power and now served as a platoon commander in the SFF. So with Mr Ook safe, Mrs Ook did all she could to help.

The other weapon we liked was the Boyes anti-tank rifle. Not only did this stop any of the tanks used in Somerset, but it also stopped armoured trains. We stopped Lord Winterfields armoured train with 8 rounds from a Boyes, as it left Taunton on its way to Watchet. As with every thing else we were short of ammunition for this as well.
Our main anti-tank weapon was the ‘milk churn bomb’. these were made by putting explosive in a milk churn which would be buried next to a road or in a culvert under it and detonated with a plunger. The explosive would come from quarries or mines, some of it was home made. If we were short of explosive we would use a large milk churn with a small amount of explosive and fill the churn with old oil. When detonated the oil would be blown 60 feet in to the air and rain down burning oil on to the tank or armoured car. This never failed to make the vehicle retreat.

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