AND INFORMATION - STAFFORDSHIRE
'G' (WOLVERHAMPTON) SECTOR
SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE ZONE
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late 1942 or very early 1943 an unknown staff officer wrote
a useful summary of this sector of the South Staffordshire
Zone, the sector comprising the 20th - 26th Staffordshire
Battalions. This was written 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 Sector report was published
and is reproduced in its entirety below.
SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE ZONE
The Sector consists of seven Battalions - the 20th to 26th
South Staffs inclusive, four of which (the 20th
to 23rd) are known as the town Battalions; the other
three are the 24th (Tettenhall), 25th
(Brewood) and 26th (Willenhall and Wednesfield).
Col. W. J. Beddows,
M.C., is Sector Commander. Rightfrom the start of the Sector
(at that time referred to as a Group) there was a tremendous
rush to 'sign on'. Col. Beddows made a strong appeal to
the townspeople to rally and give the L.D.V. full support.
He expected to see between 600 to 800 on the recruiting
ground. He was not the only one surprised, and proudly so,
to find well over that number present to enrol. It was a
wonderful sight, and there were only two men in uniform
- Col. Beddows and Sgt.-Major E. T.
Morse (now a Captain).
Slowly but surely the Sector took shape
from that date, and many of the senior officers recall how
at the start there were only fifty rifles between hundreds
of men, and this issue was two weeks after the formation
of the L.D.V. However, rapid steps were taken to collect
sporting guns and old rifles, and a local firm came to the
rescue by manufacturing a large number of pikes.
The ingenuity shown by the members of the
Sector in its initial stages in making their own weapons
was extraordinary. The Tettenhall
Battalion produced a first-class home-made flame-thrower.
In January, 1941, Lt.
Col. A. C. Shortt, of the War Office, visited Wolverhampton
for the purpose of judging a drill competition, and without
hesitation said, when presenting the cup to the winners,
that the standard was very high, and equal to some he had
seen in the Regular Army.
Hundreds of officers and men have passed
through the Sector Training School, and the comprehensive
course has turned out hundreds of platoon and section leaders.
Many of these men have been called to the Colours, and several
have written saying that they owe their promotions and commissions
to the valuable training received. The men behind the scenes
at this school, open all the year round and five nights
weekly, are Lt. Col. C. H. Dunkley,
M.C., Capt. E. T. Morse, and Sgt.-Major F. Rudge.
The Sector is proud of its own A.A. Battery.
This new phase of Home Guard activity attracted hundreds
of volunteers in addition to men drafted from the various
Battalions, and from the start a system of training was
introduced which eliminated men from staying in the same
grade a moment longer than was necessary once they had become
proficient at each stage of the specialized training.
Some of the men serving in this Battery
helped to make the guns they manned. Many old gunners rushed
to join; the popular phrase: 'once a gunner always a gunner,'
was well borne out.
This form of Home Guard service had a particular
appeal in this important industrial area to men working
in local factories who possessed technical knowledge.
The Sector was the first in the country
to have a cadet unit affiliated to it. Many of these lads
on passing the age limit have developed into first-class
The rifle range of the 23rd
Battalion is one of the finest in the Midlands. This
range occupies the same position as one laid down over half
a century ago, and one which was used extensively before
and during the last war. Men of the Battalion worked hard
to excavate the original butts, and there were sighs of
relief to find the concrete foundations in the same condition
as when laid.
One of the high spots of the training of
one Company in the 24th Battalion
is over a special Commando type of battle course situated
in one of the county's most picturesque villages. This course
has proved extremely successful, and includes the wading,
waist-high, through a brook, and finishes by the climbing
of a steep side of a sandpit, fifty feet high, with the
aid of ropes.
A 'battle inoculation' course, during which
many members of the Home Guard experienced being under live
fire for the first time, was introduced by the 22nd
Members of 'G' Sector have been congratulated
many times for the part they have played in emergencies,
and two occasions stand out prominently. The first was when
an important store caught on fire. Home Guards helped to
fight the flames, and were responsible for saving hundreds
of tons of inflammable goods. The second occasion was on
another night, when Wolverhampton suffered from the effects
of hundreds of incendiary bombs. These fell in several areas,
but were concentrated largely to one section of the town.
No one worked harder to help the Civil Defence authorities
that night than the Home Guard.
In the 1943 New Year's Honours List, Graham
Wellesley Smith, a member of 'D' Company, 23rd Battalion,
received the British Empire Medal.
The lighter side of the Home Guard is emphasized
in the following story: The scene was the orderly room at
B Company's H.Q,. of the 23rd Battalion.
A woman walked in and demanded to see the O.C. This she
was allowed to do, and she said that she had come to see
him about her husband. "Madam," explained the
O.C., "your husband has to do his parades and guards
like every other member of this Company."
"I am quite sure of that," was the woman's reply.
"What I have come to see you about is to try and get
you to make him do more parades and guards."
Another good story is told by a sergeant-major
who was giving a demonstration of A.A. fire. He told his
Platoon that they would get better results if they waited
until the dive-bomber got to at least one thousand feet
from the ground. "Would it be advisable to fix bayonets?"
was one of the questions directed to him. The sergeant-major,
for the first time in his life, was struck speechless.