The topic heading ‘War Years’ originated from the first main achievement of the Heritage Centre, which was to purchase and display locally the iconic model railway constructed by Peter Goss. The model depicts the village at a time when troops were assembling prior to their departure for the Normandy Landings which heralded the beginning of the end of World War II.
The Village was important at this time as it was close to embarkation points for the cross-channel crossing to France. There were railway sidings which allowed soldiers and tanks to detrain and then take cover in the extensive forests of the Stansted Estate. The website has a series of video clips and photographs which illustrate and interpret the Model Railway.
The presence and activities of troops in the village, including a Canadian Battle School, are described in a well-researched article by Brian Tomkinson.
It was because of the troops presence that King George VI took a salute in Manor Lodge , which has subsequently been celebrated by the modest monument called ‘ The King’s Stone’.
The Village War Memorial provides a record of the fallen from the two World Wars.
It was decided to invite residents to describe their experiences of the relatively short but demanding Falklands War, the last by a foreign nation on British soil. This is a war so recent that many participants are still alive to describe the War and their experiences of modern warfare. This article too is due to be published shortly.
In a wider military context, Rowlands Castle has been the residence for many naval personnel due to its proximity to Portsmouth which has not only become the United Kingdom’s main naval base including for the two new aircraft carriers, but also accommodates the national Command Centre of the Navy. Rowlands Castle railway has also facilitated access to career postings in senior staff jobs in the ministries based near Government in London.