PLEASE NOTE, THE GARTH IS
PRIVATELY OWNED AND NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
The Garth before renovation - Image Phil Evans
The Garth during renovation July
2011 - Image CART
'The building he chose (Peter Fleming) for his headquarters in Kent was a romantic looking,
brick and half timber farmhouse called The Garth. It stands on a hillside in Bilting, a village between Canterbury
and Ashford, on the A28 road.
The Garth appears originally to have been a cottage which was enlarged about a century ago. In
the older wing the first floor had removed-floorboards, joists and beams-and the roof rafters exposed; the
exceptional height and the two rows of leaded windows gave the look of a slightly impoverished and very old chapel.
Everyone who entered it felt that the inglenook fireplace might have sheltered an alter, and the wooden packing
cases full of explosives that Fleming and his men used as tables and chairs could have been pews' Quote from
The Last Ditchby David Lampe.
'The older part had the upper floor removed and was known to Calvert as 'the Barn'. It was
soon stacked to the ceiling with explosives in crates, and whatever weaponry Fleming could muster. This was not an
inconsiderable amount and, as the office and dining areas were in the Barn too, a certain understanding was
necessary among personnel. The only lighting was candle power and this flammable correlation with crates of
explosives sometimes led to firmly articulated protests from uninitiated visitors. Cigarette smoking was
'Field did learn something of the ropes when he
attended Fleming lectures to assembled Auxiliers during a weekend enlivened by periodic explosions in the massive
fire place at 'The Garth' and outside the open windows 'whence he had tossed live fuses with detonators and,
perhaps, timers'.' Quotes from
Churchills Underground Army by John Warwicker.
The entrance before renovation - Image Phil
Entrance - Entry was made for Auxiliers through the arched door. This
led into the lecture hall and the area theycollected
The Main Hall - Lectures were given in this hall. Peter Fleming used to
throw fuses with detonators into the fireplace to show the men in the
The main hall before renovation
- Image Phil Evans
In the image above you can see the window, top right, that Norman Field said the previous owner, John Ward had added.Originally it would have had a high level window. This was because it was this end of the hall
that used to have first floor that was removed at some point before the war. If you look through the doorway to the
left you can see the arched door the leads outside.
The Garth's main hall during
renovation July 2011 - Images Paula Sykes
Table - On arrival at the Garth, Norman Field was surprised to find a
Luftwaffe pilot who had just been shot down lying on the kitchen table! He had arrived by parachute, wounded
in the arm and not in a very good state covered in yellow dye. It had burst over his head! They turned on the
one o'clock news and someone said" listen carefully! you'll hear the truth!" He probably didn't speak a word
of English as he didn't respond anyway! The ambulance turned up and took him off. The table was cleaned up and
lunch produced for the assembled company at the same table!
This photo was taken by Phil Evans in 2009 and is believed to be the same
Nissan Hut - It is a little bit hard to see but if you look close
enough you can see the remains of the Nissan hut Norman Field had built for men to
sleep in. Apparently there was another one further into the wood but Phil has wondered through there and
cant see any evidence.
The Nissan Hut - Image Phil
Stores Tunnel - Here is the remains of the Tunnel Norman Field had constructed for storing explosives as he was leaving. From talking to
some locals they said it ended up being used to store food.
The Stores Tunnel - Image Phil
Outside - The white door is the what would have been the front door
during the war. If you go through it and turn right it leads into the Hall. If you turn left it leads into Norman
Field's office while he was there.
Path into the wood - The path that runs next to the Garth up into the wood used to be where
machine gun training took place where men would walk up the path and targets would pop out from behind trees. They
were operated by men hiding near by who pulled on a string to pop the target out.
One of the gentlemen Phil has been speaking to who was a kid in the war used to go up this path once
the Auxiliers had stopped shooting with his friends and dig the bullets out of the trees and the ground to use in
In July 2011 a group from CART went to the Garth to see progress on the renovations.
Auxilier Ron Martin is pictured in the middle, seated. Image - Paula Sykes.
Thanks to the current owners of The Garth for site