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MEMORIES AND INFORMATION - WARWICKSHIRE

 SUTTON COLDFIELD HOME GUARD
6th WARWICKSHIRE (SUTTON) BATTN.


The area of Sutton Coldfield was the responsibility of the 6th Warwickshire (Sutton) Battalion.  In 1941 the Battalion was commanded by Lt. Col. W. Bigwood, M.C., late of the Indian Army. There are several pages within this website providing information about the Battaliom, including this one - see this summary to find them.

Below is a list of those men who have so far been identified as members of the 6th Battalion - and also a few of the many Suttonians who served in Birmingham and elsewhere in factory units at their place of work. This list represents only a small proportion of the 1000/2000 men (and a few women) who will have served in the Battalion between May 1940 and December 1944. (If you can add a name, please use the Feedback link at the foot of this page)

 

SUTTON HOME GUARD
MEMBERS

Allton, S.V., 2/Lt.

Ball, A.H.

Bate, Peter Geoffrey
Bigwood, W. Lt.-Col.,
 - Battn. C.O.

Bingham, G.W. 
Brosch, John R.
, Capt. Butterfield, W. A., 2/Lt.

Clark
e, Charles
Clark, J.W., 2/Lt.

Darby, Norman Frank 


Evans, John "Jack", Cpl.

Garner, W.
Green, W. W., Lt.

Hammond
Hood, Dennis

Hudspith, William


Irwin, J
., 2/Lt. 
Iveson, J.
, Lt.

Kean, W.A., 2/Lt.
Kemp, Jack , Lt.
Killick
Knott, Wilfred G. V., Sgt.
 - (later A.A.)

Larard, J. H., Lt.

Mynett, Ed., 2/Lt.
-
formerly
Cpl.
Norton, F.
Norton, Fred

Padley, Maurice E.,
Pte.
Pearce, H. E., Lt.
Proffitt, Horace
Purden, I. M., 2/Lt.

Reed, Josiah Percy
, Lt. 
Riggall, David
Rudge


Shorthouse, Harry
Smith, John
Slater

Thomas, Douglas, Cpl.
Thomas, Rupert L. Lt.
Thornton, William,
Turner, E.

 - see Ball
information

Webb, "Mac"
Westrup, Eric, Pte.
Wightman/Whiteman
Windsor, C., 2/Lt.

Young, D.G., 2/Lt.


The links in the above list lead to further information about individual men, either on this page or within dedicated pages within this website.

The information below relates to several men who appear on the above list.

A. H. BALL

A. H. Ball and his friend E. Turner both served in the Home Guard at Walmley Ash Road.  The huts later became home to those who needed one - perhaps people who had been bombed out or perhaps, later, to displaced persons/refugees from abroad ("d.p.") or to "squatters", those who could not find homes in the postwar housing shortage and took over such accommodation unofficially.

Mr. Ball lived in Fowler Road and worked at the Gas Works. Mr Turner was employed at Dunlop.

Lt.-Col. H. BIGWOOD, M.C.

Colonel Bigwood, late of the Indian Army, was C.O. of the 6th Battalion in the 1941 Officers' List and probably served in that role throughout.  He lived on the corner of Four Oaks Road and Streetly Lane, adjacent to Burcot Grange School. 

Charles CLARKE

Charles Clark was the publican of the White Lion on Hill Village Road.  (Was this the local Platoon H.Q?)  He and his comrades had to share the bowling green pavilion with the Women's Institute - run by his wife.

Cpl. Norman Frank DARBY

Cpl. Norman Frank Darby lived in Sutton Coldfield but was employed at Cincinnati Ltd. of Kingsbury Road, Erdington where he joined the factory Home Guard unit. This unit was of Company strength and was part of one of the adjoining Birmingham Home Guard battalions.  A 1942 photograph of all or most of its members survives and Noman is ringed in blue:

Norman was not destined to see the war out either at Cincinnati or serving in the Home Guard. At some time after the above photograph he enlisted in the Royal Navy and went on to qualify as a Fleet Air Arm pilot after aircrew training (which, according to the image below, might well have occurred Canada).

Images Steve Darby 2018

Cpl. John EVANS

John (Jack) Evans was manager of Dewhurst's, a butcher's shop on The Parade. He volunteered for the Home Guard and served throughout the Battalion's existence. He just missed the Great War as he was conscripted, completed his basic training and was then just about to be deployed to France when the Armistice was called. Instead, he went to India and served for at least three years.
(Webmaster note: Was John Evans the landlord of
David Riggall whose memoir appears elsewhere on this website?)

Lt. Jack KEMP

Lt. John Herbert (Jack) Kemp (1903-1972) was also an officer in the 6th Warwicks. He was almost certainly promoted in the course of the Battalion's existence, probably in 1942/43, unlike most of his brother officers who would have seen Great War experience and had quickly been given positions of authority in May/June 1940. As men with special personal qualities of leadership, ability and specialist skills were identified, they were promoted to appropriate positions and Jack Kemp obviously fell into that category.

Jack Kemp was an engineer by profession and inclination, working for a Sutton company and also pursuing similar interests in his spare time. He lived with his wife and two young daughters at 11 Oakwood Road, Boldmere and is seen (right) with them in 1944.

An interesting group image survives in his papers:

Jack Kemp is in the centre of the back row, 5th from each end and all the men are Home Guard officers.

We cannot be 100% sure of the interpretation of this image. The assumption has to be that it shows him with twenty-five of his fellow 6th Battalion officers. Slight doubt creeps in, however: none of the faces is recognisable as belonging to men known to have been Battalion members; and twenty-six is a strange number for a group of this type - too large for an individual Company within the Battalion and too few for the Battalion as a whole. The other possibilty is a group of men from various units, including Jack, on some training course or other - even perhaps one for newly commissioned officers. We hope to clarify this in due course.
Images Joy Frey 2018

 2/Lt. Ed MYNETT

Ed Mynett's service in the 6th Battalion is recorded in three surviving photographs.

In one of these (right) - chronologically speaking, likely to be the last of those in which he appears and dating from later in the war - he appears as an officer, most probably a 2/Lt. although no insignia is visible. He has been promoted. In the earlier part of the Home Guard's life, almost all senior positions were held by those with previous military experience which normally meant Great War service. But later on, men with appropriate leadership skills and other valuable abilities were appointed to NCO and officer rank.  Ed Mynett, too young to have fought in that conflict, was clearly one of those capable men.

In the other two images, Ed is a corporal. It is earlier in the war and he has yet to be promoted.  In the first he is standing at the left hand end of the second row with a group of his comrades. The venue is the front of the Empress Cinema in The Parade - an apparently popular venue for such photographs.

And finally he appears in one of those rare and welcome group images where the men are barely aware of the camera and which give us a tiny insight into life in the Home Guard.  Ed is second from the right. The others comprise four sergeants and an officer. The sergeants and the officer are almost certainly survivors of the Great War. If they were to turn around we should probably see their ribbons. What is the occasion?  Perhaps the end of a summer display for the public, or a break in proceedings. Presumably in Sutton Park. It's time for a fag and a chat.  The officer is holding forth. It looks as though things have gone off well. The other men are listening, attentively, politely. One of them draws on his cigarette. Hands are clasped behind backs or arms are folded. There is a feeling of deference and respect.  And who is the boy who has inserted himself into the group?  No doubt the son of one of the men - perhaps the sergeant who is partly obscured - and in his Sunday best.

Ed Mynett's civilian occupation was with Metro Cammell at Elmdon on aircraft production.
Images Rosalind Mynett 2018  

Pte. Maurice E. PADLEY

Pte. Maurice E. Padley (right) volunteered in February 1941 and served through to the end in December 1944.  For the first two years his role would have been that of the traditional infantryman in Four Oaks but in late 1942 or early 1943 he transferred, with an unknown degree of enthusasm or reluctance, to a local anti-aircraft battery.

Maurice's local Home Guard H.Q. was located at the Old Crown pub, at the Crown Lane/Walsall Road crossroads in Four Oaks. His day job was at the Spitfire factory in Castle Bromwich where he undertook night-time fire-watching duties up on the roof - all over and above his normal responsibilities of a long working week and evening/weekend H.G. duties.

His service was acknowledged by King George VI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Images The Padley Family 2018 

 

Lt. HAROLD PEARCE

We were very pleased to receive from Mr. G.W.A. Pearce, late of Sutton Coldfield, a fascinating memory of another member of this Battalion, his late father, Lt. Harold E. Pearce. We reproduce it below with the author's permission.

My father, Harold E. Pearce, born on 18th June 1893, won a scholarship to Bishop Vesey's Grammar School and was there from about 1903 until 1909. Thereafter he had served in WW I but being too old for Army service in WWII had volunteered at once when the Local Defence Volunteers, LDV, was formed, which was soon renamed the Home Guard.

He is pictured right in 1940 in the denim uniform which started to be issued to Home Guards at the end of May, long before full battledress became available towards the end of the year.

We lived at 40 Beacon Road, Boldmere at that time and almost at once he was appointed as Musketry Officer for the local Battalion, as a Lieutenant. He was a self-employed accountant and auditor by day and did his Home Guard parades or duties on many evenings, including weapon training sessions, and guard duties at the Light Alloy Co Ltd., a company making aluminium parts for aircraft, at, I think, Minworth, near Walmley. He also attended a short course on the Blacker Bombard or Spigot Mortar, a device for projecting a rugger ball sized bomb with a long hollow tube tail, from a heavy metal spigot, about 2 inches diameter and 3 feet long.

I remember him bringing home a Browning automatic rifle, to find out how to strip and reassemble it, before instructing the Battalion on it. I have a vague idea that the Battalion HQ was in Hartopp Road, Sutton.

A good friend of his in the Home Guard was Jim Iveson......

© G.W.A. Pearce 2007 

Horace PROFFITT

Horace (Pat/Harry) Proffitt served in the Home Guard, probably the 6th Warwickshire.  He lived in Tower Road, Four Oaks.
 
Lt. Josiah Percy REED

Lt. Josiah Percy Reed was a Suttonian living in Walmley who was a member of a factory Home Guard unit at his place of work rather than the local 6th Warwickshire Battalion. He was C.O. of a Platoon within the Bromford Tube works Company. His name appears in the February 1941 Officers' List as a 2/Lt. and from this we can assume that he held a position of authority from the very beginning which, in turn, indicates Great War service. The wintry image of him (right) reminds us that Home Guard duty was not always carried out on the warm, summer days which are the backdrop to so many HG photographs - in fact, rarely so.

Josiah Reed's day job was that of metallurgical chemist. This position involved him in secret govrnment work on metal fatigue and led to his making several transatlantic crossings in the course of the War.

Images Clare Lee 2018

 

 

John SMITH

John Smith lived in Mere Green, volunteered for the Home Guard in 1941 at the age of seventeen and served for around 18 months before call-up which took him to India, Burma and Malaya.

Lt. Rupert THOMAS

A further officer was Lt. Rupert L. Thomas.  He lived during the war years, and later, at 37 Walsall Road, Four Oaks with his wife and daughter, Nora (later the wife of Pte. Graham Myers, 32nd Staffs H.G. and Royal Artillery).

Like so many of his Home Guard comrades, this officer, sometime Captain in a Welsh regiment, was a survivor of the Western Front. He joined the LDV in the earliest days and became a platoon commander, responsible for the area around Wishaw. In addition to his skills and experience he brought with him his service revolver and just two rounds of ammunition, to supplement the Battalion's inadequate armoury. For the rest of his Home Guard service Rupert Thomas was known by his comrades as "Two-Shots Thomas". The Company HQ of his unit was within a disused pub on the corner of Tamworth Road and Whitehouse Common Road.

Pte. Eric WESTRUP

Eric Westrup, originally from New Brighton, had served as a second-lieutenant in the King's Liverpool Regiment in France during the Great War. Prior to joining up he had served in the Territorial Force. He lived in Knighton Close, Four Oaks and served during the 1930s in the Territorial Army. Some time after the outbreak of war in 1939 and his transfer into the Regular Army he was discharged on medical grounds. Thereupon he volunteered for the Home Guard and served happily in the 6th Warwickshire as a private for the rest of the war.

Eric was photographed in the summer of 1918 at New Brighton (right). He later became the brother-in-law of E. Trevor Evans, an RFC/RAF pilot whose story appears elsewhere within this website.

 

*********** 

In Memory of

ALL MEMBERS
of

THE SUTTON HOME GUARD

and of
THOSE SUTTON MEN
who served in nearby Battalions

6th Warwickshire (Sutton) Battalion
Home Guard

1940-1944


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Grateful acknowledgement is made to
- Mr. G.W.A. Pearce (for the above information about his father, Harold Pearce);
- Mrs Joy Frey (Kemp);
-- the late Nora Myers (Thomas);
- the Palmer/Price families (Westrup)
-  members of the Sutton History Facebook group: Peggy Kennedy (Ball), Mspan class="auto-style10">atthew Clarke (Clarke),  Steve Darby (Darby), Antony Evans (Evans),  Rosalind Mynett (Mynett). the late Keith Padley (Padley), Brenda Davies (Proffitt), Clare Lee (Reed), Deborah Jaggers (Shorthouse), Carolyn Mapp (Smith).

Images and text copyright:
as stated above with reference to specific images;
otherwise staffshomeguard.co.uk 2018


See a summary of all references to Sutton Home Guard within this website

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xx22 Updated August 2018