This is a page within the website. To see full contents, go to SITE MAP.


Before the outbreak of war work was started on 44 new Royal Ordinance factories. The Swynnerton factory, located near Mill Meece between Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stafford, was one of these. Construction work started in 1939. 1940 saw the beginning of production. Large numbers of people were employed: during 1941 they increased from 5,000 to 15,000 by midsummer and next year peaked at 18,000. The Factory's function was mainly the filling of ammunition cases with explosive. Such was its size and importance that its own branch railway line was built to serve it.

ROF Swynnerton had its own Home Guard battalion to defend it, the 18th Staffordshire Battalion. In late 1942 or very early 1943 the Battalion wrote a brief, and no doubt deliberately vague summary of its activities. This was at the behest of Mr. Charles Graves who had been commissioned to write a book entitled "The Home Guard of Great Britain" (Hudson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1943). The 18th Battalion report was published and is reproduced in its entirety below.


This Battalion was formed as a Factory Home Guard Unit in June, 1941, which was attached to the Rural Battalion in the vicinity, and which is now commanded by Lt. Col. P. H. Highfield-Jones, M.C., T.D., D.L.

The training of this Company was the normal training of a Home Guard Unit, but when the Battalion was formed by the Factory many difficulties arose owing to the shift system, i.e., three shifts every twenty-four hours. From this it can be seen that only one-third of the strength of the Battalion would be available in case of an emergency. Also training could only take place for any given shift once every three weeks.

However, as time went on the Ministry of Supply, backed up by the Superintendent, Mr. A. Dawes Robinson, granted certain facilities which enabled the Home Guard to train for short periods during the Factory time.

The Battalion was probably more fortunate than other units as many essential items of equipment were easily available.

Outside the perimeter of the Factory certain defences are manned by A.A. Batteries, with which very close liaison exists.

It can be definitely stated that a Home Guard Unit of this description is quite different both in training and general organization from other units.

(Acknowledgement is made to "The Home Guard of Britain", a book long since out of print but one which remains an invaluable source of information about many Home Guard units throughout the country).