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The 82nd Airborne parachute packers were based at Ashwell Camp about two miles from Langham and when off-duty, spent many hours in its three pubs: The Noel Arms, The Wheatsheaf and The Black Horse.
Julian Jenkins wrote a small booklet for Langham Village History Group entitled:
"Langham's Wartime Experiences American Style" below is an extract from "Off-duty Activities":
Immediately the 82nd arrived, their first off-duty hours were spent purchasing bicycles in Oakham. The dealers sold out every week, including replacement stocks which had to be drawn from suppliers all over the country.
Eventually most paratroopers possessed bicycles and through the winter snow they cycled to the surrounding towns of their choice, attending dances at Oakham and visiting favourite pubs. One haunt of the ‘Yanks’ was the Black Horse pub at Langham where the landlady’s daughter, Miss Pat Wolfe, made them welcome. Almost any night, the soft glow of bicycle lamps could be traced from Ashwell camp to the village of Langham. There the lights would separate, some turning in at the Wheatsheaf pub, some at the Noel Arms and others continuing around the corner to the Black Horse. It was here amid the laughter, smoke laden atmosphere and tinkling of beer glasses, that so many pleasant darts matches were enjoyed by soldier and civilian alike.
Pat Wolfe remembers them well, and has on occasions been visited by ‘old hands’ from the States, who returned after the war, with their wives and families, for a nostalgic look at the area.
To many of the paratroopers, Ashwell camp was the finest camp they saw overseas, and the liberty enjoyed whilst there was unsurpassed in any land. The camp had steam heated showers, electricity and running water, which had not been previously available. But life did not pass without the odd incident. On a notable Halloween night, October 1944, at Ashwell at 9.30pm, a mighty blast broke windows and sent men diving for cover.
After the smoke cleared, it was found that a nearby English pillbox had been destroyed by pranksters using explosives. The whole camp had to suffer for the pranks of a few villains, but eventually the guilty confessed, and paid for their high spirits by doing some extra duties. These lads had probably read about our own Guy Fawkes, who unfortunately paid for his misdeeds with his life!!
To read the complete booklet or to purchase a copy please visit http://www.langhaminrutland.org.uk/publications.htm
Bill Nourish's story moved to his own dedicated page here: http://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/239750
Langham Village History Group - Mike Frisby
Bill Nourish was born in Langham in April 1920, he dictated this story to his sister Freda Smithson. This is just one of the many stories he has written down of his early life in Langham. Bill died in March 2015.
Bill dictated this story to his sister Freda Smithson in 2015, one of the many we have received from him. He was born in Langham April 1920 and died in March 2015.