Amongst the pages of a booklet, Sandiway Golf Club, A Concise History*, compiled by the late Alan Seaman, a former Secretary of the Club, and published in 1992, is a section on Wartime. The wartime referred to is the period of the Second World War and the presence of US troops in the local area is mentioned as well as their use of the course not only for golf but also for training.
On page 19 the following paragraph appears:
`From the start a large number of troops were stationed in the district, first British and later American. The golfers amongst these servicemen used the course whenever possible. The Committee had decided that no Club competitions would be held and thus it [Initials carved on a tree] continued. At various times, however, special competitions were held in aid of war charities, "Spitfire" funds etc. and in this and other ways a good deal of money was raised.'
And on page 20 the following paragraphs:
`In the middle of the war the local area became an American Zone and quite a number of these allies made friends at Sandiway and played on the course. It may be that in some part of the American continent an elderly gentleman still recalls happy days at Sandiway. It may even be the young man who carved "R.E.C. OHIO, USA. 1944" on the beech tree near the Ladies 5th tee! Certainly his marks and others are still visible.
The American forces were very active on an area of land, then outside the course boundaries but now comprising the 2nd, 3rd and 4th holes. Soil was bulldozed into a horse shoe shaped mound some thirty or forty feet high. This was to be the rifle butts where G.I.s would get their shooting practice for the invasion of Europe still to come. Today, this is our 4th tee. `Early in June 1944 scores of heavy military vehicles, which had been quietly, perhaps impatiently, waiting amongst the Sandiway trees, disappeared overnight en route for the South Coast. The invasion of Europe was on.'
Now, seventy years later, a memorial is proposed to the men of the US 80th (Blue Ridge) Infantry Division who were stationed in and around Sandiway prior to their involvement in the invasion of Europe. A plaque is being prepared for placing on the course in a ceremony that will be held before the end of this month, June 2014. Details will follow as soon as they are available.
*The Concise History itself is available to read or download by clicking here
(MeW June 2014)