Many army units were quartered in and around Wantage during the Second World War.

One of the first to arrive was the 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment RA.

The Regiment on mobilisation at Kidderminster consisted of four batteries of 2pdr guns (three guns per battery) and approximately 520 men under the command of Lt-Colonel A J Muirhead.

Its concentration area and base whilst undergoing training was to be Wantage.

The move here took place on September 15, 1939, and on arrival the following buildings were requisitioned in the town:

• The town hall as Regimental HQ (after much humbugging by the magistrates' clerk according to the war diary of the regiment – the town hall included the magistrates court at the time).

• The Elms in Grove Street for use by 210 Battery

• The boys' school (now the Masonic hall) in Alfred’s Street for use by 211 Battery

• The Drill Hall, Springfield Road for 209 Battery

• The Swan for 212 Battery

• The King Alfred’s Head for the Signals Section.

A total of eight officers were put up by the Bear Hotel and the remaining men were billeted out.

One of the officers of the Regiment was Lt (later Major) Ronald Cartland MP, brother of the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland.

Sadly he was to be the first M killed in the war.

The regiment's time in Wantage was spent in training in gun drill, Bren gun and anti-tank rifle instruction and anti-tank trench digging.

More advanced training for the men took place at three firing camps on Salisbury Plain and at Lydd in Kent, the men being transported there by lorry.

Several members of the ATS were attached to the regiment whilst at Wantage to serve as typists and cooks.

For entertainment, ENSA gave a cinema show in the VC Gallery. Renee Houston and Donald Stewart came with their concert party from Oxford to give a show at the Regent Cinema.

The local population arranged community singing and a dance at the VC Gallery and St Mary's School gave a show to entertain the troops in their school hall.

The men also played football and rugby against the 4th Battalion Cheshire Regiment who were based in Letcombe Regis.

Eventually the time came, in early January 1940, for the Worcestershire Yeomanry to leave Wantage for France, however there was one more event to come.

On January 12, 1940, the entire Regiment was paraded in the recreation ground in Manor Road.

His Majesty King George VI was on a tour of inspection of troops undergoing training in Southern England, and the photos here show him inspecting the Worcestershire Yeomanry in Wantage on that day.

Local Wantage people had learnt that the King was visiting and a large crowd had had arrived to see his Majesty.

The photo of the King leaving the 'rec' shows from left to right Vera Williams, Joan Chapman, Ken Evans, Mrs Wheeler, Dorothy Hunt, Bet Wheeler, Joan Herring. unknown, unknown, John Thurson and Sylvia Burton (nee' Haines).