Lavender Line During The War
During world war two, Isfield was at the centre of a number of army barracks that held tens of thousands of troops throughout the war. Isfield itself had its very own army camp located opposite the Laughing Fish Pub and consisted of many Acers, these army camps were dotted all along the south coast during war, such as Crowborough, Maresfield, Buxted and Uckfield.
Isfield’s camp mainly consisted of Canadian troops and became one of the more therapeutic army camps in which soldiers were based at. In 1940 a new extension was built from the down line on platform 2 which extended into the army camp to enable troops and vehicles to disembark quickly and efficiently, this siding into the army camp proved to be extremely important especially when evacuating British and French soldiers from Dunkirk.
At this point the village pub suddenly became a very important place with over 4000 Canadian troops stationed at the camp needing a drinking house where they could enjoy their time off and relax. But one evening the local landlord at the time ‘Fred Pullinger’ had a disagreement with a group of Canadian soldiers who were causing trouble in the pub, and like any landlord he told them to leave. After the pub had closed for the night the group returned in a drunken state and planted a small amount of explosives which blew up the front porch! The next day the landlord ‘Fred’ made his way over to the army camp and explained what had happened to his pub that night, that afternoon the commanding officer marched the group who blew the porch up and ordered them to rebuild it. This is why even now the front of the pub looks slightly different to the rest of the building.
Towards the end of the war the Uckfield to Lewes Line suddenly became one of the busiest routes in the UK. This was due to being one of only four major routes down to the south coast and could directly link with the port of Newhaven where major logistical skills were developed to ensure the success of Operation Overlord. Throughout this time a stream of war traffic was passing on the line through Isfield with many wagons holding top secret vehicles and special equipment!
After the war the army camp continued to be used for a while as part of national service and due to the fact it was so close the nearby training area Pippingford Park on the Ashdown Forest. But after a few years the training camp junction and spur to the army camp were taken up and the line returned to its original two track section once again. Up until very recently the army camp could be seen from the main road but recent development plans have resulted in demolishion of the camp that one housed over 4000 Canadian troops during the second world war.