Bream Heritage Walk

31 A – A P.O.W. in Whitecroft

During the Second World War, on the night of the 15/16 April, 1941, a German plane, returning from a raid on Belfast was in trouble over the Forest. The aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire from a battery at Ashdon Down across the river Severn. The crew baled out and this airman parachuted down in to woodland that is now the football ground.

At daybreak he wandered down the hill, crossed the rail line and walked along the wall to the right. Looking over the wall he saw Mr Albert Chiswell, a coal miner at nearby Park Gutter colliery. Mr Chiswell, still wearing his blue boiler suit after a shift at “the gutter” was digging his garden. The airman promptly raised his arms and surrendered to Mr Chiswell. There was no police station in Whitecroft so Mr Chiswell rode his motor cycle to Parkend to inform the local “Bobby” who cycled back to apprehend the airman.

A photo of a bomb crater at The Tufts near Whitecroft
A photo from the Forest Review of 13 September 2002 of a bomb crater near Whitecroft. The photo was sent in by Peter Windows.

Peter Windows recalled another war-time incident in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review – 13th September, 2002 issue:
In May 1940, Peter who was nine years old at the time, was asleep in his grandfather’s house at the Tufts between Whitecroft and Bream, just 30 yards from where a bomb crater was left. The time was 3 a.m.

“There was a massive crater outside which was caused by two bombs and there was another crater a couple of hundred yards away. It caused quite a stir but there was no real damage. The house down below us had a chimney knocked off – the people who lived there had moved from Swansea to get away from the bombs and didn’t expect to get one in the middle of the woods”
Later in the day a shock was in store: “We kids were out and about picking up shrapnel when there was a massive blast higher up in the woods – it was a bomb with a 12 hour delayed timer device”