Unexpectedly Shelled By The Canadian Army In WW2! English Rifle Range Remembers The War

Members of the British Home Guard in Training during WW2
Members of the British Home Guard in Training during WW2

Gilbert Saunders is the only one left from a group of men that served in the Home Guard at Steyning Rifle Range in 1944.

Recently, he unveiled a new information board at the ground to educate visitors.

It is the first in a series that are being installed to show the different features of the area. The Steyning Downland Scheme is organizing the installations.

Saunders was at the rifle range on the day the town was accidentally shelled by the Canadian army, which was not aware that they were there.

Saunders was invited to officially unveil the information board which tells the story of that day.

He spoke about how he heard six explosions before the shells began to fall all around.  Private Leslie Thomas Wylie died in that incident; others were wounded.

“They were evidently given the wrong range for their guns,” Saunders said.

“The result was the shells missed their targets, came right over the cricket field and landed up there.”

One of the commanding officers, Lieutenant Greenwood, had been standing next to him and was injured. He was never able to walk again.

Greenwood, according to Saunders, was the headmaster of children that had come to the area early in the war.  That was the reason he had been chosen as an officer.

The Steyning Downland Scheme intends to install twelve of the information boards at the site, Worthing Herald reported.

They will look at different aspects of the rifle range and the area surrounding, according to Matthew Thomas, the project manager at Steyning Downing Scheme.

The first board was unveiled during Steyning Downland Scheme’s annual Big Picnic. The Big Picnic is an event where people come to the range to enjoy lunch and a range of fun activities.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE