It was interesting to see the press release from the various authorities overseeing the construction of the new section of the A30 dual carriageway between Chiverton Cross and Carland Cross on July 16th. Among the fascinating finds from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages to sections of the original A30 route, it also claimed to have discovered a WW2 US sausage camp. Apart from explaining this was a D-Day embarkation camp, it gave no further details and we shall have to wait for the Cornwall Archaeological Unit’s final report to discover just what evidence they came across.
I don’t like raining on someone else’s parade but even a precursory examination of the American records shows that there were no sausage camps on the A30. What I believe they have unearthed is the supply camp at Hillview Farm near the Chybucca Junction on the A30. This camp contained a vehicle park, an ammunition dump, an ordnance depot and an advance shop which supplied the west of Cornwall sausage camps but was not a sausage camp itself.
There were 12 sausage camps in Cornwall used for the D-Day embarkation process, and some continued in use for almost a month afterwards sending a steady supply of men to the Normandy shore. They were broken down into three groups of four – one group fed the embarkation hards on the Tamar and the Lynher Rivers in southeast Cornwall, another fed the hards on the River Fal, and the third fed the hards on the Helford River.
A sausage camp derives its name from the shape it looks drawn on the planning maps. They were temporary tented camps spread along about a five-mile section of road that was on the route to the hards but some distance from them so as not to compromise security or give the game away to aerial reconnaissance. It was in a sausage camp that the US soldiers would receive their last medical and dental check-up, have their last hot meal, obtain their rations, ammunition, gas masks, orders and maps, make a will and write a last letter to their loved ones. Their vehicles (if they were taking them with them) would receive their last check over and would receive a patch of anti-gas paint – it would change colour if exposed to gas. Infantry were ferried to the hards in a convoy of lorries that would return on a one-way system through the Cornish lanes ready to pick up the next load.
There were usually three more permanent structures within each sausage camp normally in the shape of a Nissen hut or the American Quonset hut. One would be the administration office, one would be the cookhouse and the third usually dealt with the vehicle administration. In the N camps a number of these huts are still standing today.
Locals who lived within the sausage camps needed a special pass to be able to go to and from their homes. One of my sources for much on the war who sadly died earlier this year, 98-year-old Vi Burton, was arrested and accused of being a spy when she walked into Camp NH at Whitemoor on her way home when she had a day off from the NAAFI in Newquay. That will be a tale that will find its way into my third novel so will save the finer details until then.
In the meantime here are the details and locations of the 12 sausage camps in Cornwall:
The M camps that fed the hards on the River Lynher at Jupiter Point and Barn Pool, Mount Edgecumbe on the River Tamar were:
MJ – capacity 2800 men – went from Dupath Farm, Callington on the A388 through Viverdon, St Mellion, Paynter’s Cross, Vinegar Hill to Hatt House.
MK – capacity 1400 men – went from Lower Clicker on the A38 through Trebrown, Kinrowan and Penquite to Trerulefoot.
ML – capacity 2000 men – went from Tencreek on the A38 near Liskeard through Carthuther, Torr Farm to the hill just above Lower Clicker.
MM – capacity 800 men – went from Polvean Cross at Duloe through Duloe to Sandplace before joining the A387 up through Morval to Wringworthy.
The N camps that fed the hards on the River Fal at Tolverne, Turnaware Point and Messack Point were:
NA – capacity 2800 men – went from the power station near Trewheela Farm near Fraddon on the A30 through Scarewater, Grampound Road to New Stables by the junction with the A390.
NB – capacity 2800 men – went from Penhale Farm near the original A30/A39 junction near St Enoder through Brighton Cross and Ladock to Tresowga at the junction of the A39/A390.
NG – capacity 2800 men – went from Gaverigan Farm near Indian Queens through Treviscoe, Stepaside, St Stephen and Gwindra to High Street.
NH – capacity 2800 men – went from Victoria on the old A30 through Roche, Whitemoor, Stormer, America and Karslake (the road and these last three hamlets have all disappeared in the Dorothy China Clay Pit!) and down over Longstone Downs to the top of Old Pound.
The O Camps that fed the hard at Polgwidden (now known as Trebah) on the Helford River were:
OC – capacity 2800 men – went from Three Burrows just east of the A30 along what is now the A390 past West Longarth Farm, Greenbottom, East Longarth Farm, through Gloweth and to to the edge of Highertown at Truro.
OD – capacity 2800 men – went from Crasken Farm near Helston on the A394 through Trewennack, Trevennen, Manhay, Carnebone and Edgecumbe to Halfway House.
OE – capacity 2800 men – went from Breamarth Farm on Buller Hill on the B3297 out of Redruth through Four Lanes, Nine Maidens and Burras to Crelly Farm above Trenear.
OF – capacity 2800 men – went from Whitehall near Scorrier on the old A390 through Wheal Busy and Chacewater to Kerling Farm, then turned through Polrose Farm, Kerley Downs and Cross Lanes to Wheal Whiddon Farm at Bissoe.
If you have any photos of the sausage camps or documents relating to them I would love to hear from you. Use the comments feature on the website to get in touch.