Desert Rats’ hut hunt ends in Stowmarket

The Nissen hut with Scott Evans,  James Francis sales and marketing, Julian Bobbin,  James Francis MD,  Duncan Shepherd ,site manager, Rodney Scott,Chairman of DRA, Calvin Smith site supervisor, and Bill Wells  DRA ANL-140922-130028009
The Nissen hut with Scott Evans, James Francis sales and marketing, Julian Bobbin, James Francis MD, Duncan Shepherd ,site manager, Rodney Scott,Chairman of DRA, Calvin Smith site supervisor, and Bill Wells DRA ANL-140922-130028009
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A six -year hunt for a wartime Nissen hut to house a Desert Rats museum has ended thanks to the generosity of a house developer.

Rod Scott of the Desert Rats Association says he has chased about 20 huts to put alongside one they relocated to their High Ash memorial site near Mundford some years ago.

But attempts have ended in disappointment with one company flattening 30 rather than giving the DRA one.

But his luck changed when someone flying over Stowmarket spotted one near Violet Hill Road and contacted him.

Rod saíd: “I didn’t have any luck with the people selling the site, but once it was sold I contacted the new owner and he said yes.”

The site had been bought by house builders and renovators James Francis, of Ipswich. Managing director Julian Bobbin said: “I like what the Desert Rats Association stands for and I’d rather see the hut re-used than sent off to the scrap merchants.

“I’m also a partner in the East Anglian Mini Centre, restoring classic cars, so perhaps restoration is in the blood.”

Rod and his volunteers managed to take apart the hut, a pitch pine frame clad in curved corrugated tin sheets, in a day on Monday.

Rod said: “It’s in such good condition. The nuts were coming apart with just a spanner and some of the tin is still shiny.”

It is thought the hut was used as a recruiting centre for Stowmarket during World War Two.

When the Desert Rats were based at Ash Hill before D-Day they lived in rows of Nissen huts, which also served as stores and workshops.

The DRA hope the Royal Engineers will help put it up. Then the first hut will be refurnished as a barrack hut was in 1944 and this one will house a small museum.