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Longton, in North Staffordshire, was defended by the 3rd Staffordshire (Longton) Battalion. Its area of responsibility included the village of Meir to which a separate page of this website is devoted. Other Battalions were responsible for other parts of the Potteries: the 1st - Stoke-on-Trent, the 2nd - Burslem and the 4th - Hanley. All four Battalions formed No. 1 Group of No. 3 Zone of the West Lancashire Area.

The 3rd Battalion was commanded by Lt.-Col. V. B. Shelley (left). He was the second son (and the elder of twin sons) of Percy Shelley of Shelley Potteries who retired from the business in 1932. All three brothers - Norman, Bob (V.B.) and Jack - served in the 5th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment in the Great War. Here is Lt.-Col. Shelley portrayed in his service uniform at that time (right). In addition to his work in the family business he devoted much time and energy to Home Guard duties from May/June 1940 onwards. Regrettably he did not live to enjoy many of the fruits of those latter endeavours when peace returned in 1945 for he died in that year of a heart attack. He would never have known that in due course his family and that of Lt.-Col. Reg Brown, C.O. of the adjoining 2nd Staffordshire (Burslem) Battalion and with whom Bob Shelley must have collaborated closely, would be linked by marriage.

Below is an image of the 3rd Battalion's "C" Company - whose area presumably included Meir - photographed in the grounds of the church at Box Lane, Meir. Permission to publish here has been generously granted by Mr. David Frost whose father appears in it.

Image © David Frost, 2007           Click anywhere on the above image to see a Higher Definition version

Individuals so far identified are:
Front row: 2nd from right is Dennis Ridge, 3rd from right is Frank Frost.
(At this time Frank lived in Eversley Road, Normacot and was about 17 years old.)  

 (The image also appears, with other Staffordshire HG pictures, on the excellent Staffordshire Past Track website - there is a link to those available here).                   

Alfred Leslie Jones (right) was not a member of the Home Guard. He was a scion of the family firm of A.B. Jones & Sons in Longton, makers of Grafton, later Royal Grafton, china which existed from 1900 until 1972. The family, like others in the business world of the Potteries, had family and other social links with many other potters and allied trades: the Aynsleys, the Plants (Tuscan China), the Johnsons, the Rowleys and the Shelleys. But Pilot Officer - and later Flight Lieutenant - Jones was by 1940 even more fully involved in the war effort than his Home Guard contemporaries since he was a pilot instructor based at RAF Halfpenny Green (originally known as Bobbington and located between Bridgnorth and Dudley).

Nevertheless his interest in and contribution to the local Home Guard unit was significant: he took it upon himself during periods of leave to instruct its members, probably including some of those pictured above, in the finer arts of shooting. The firearm used was his personal .22 pump action rifle; the venue, the premises of the family firm. As well as shooting outside, Pilot Officer Jones, or "Mr. Leslie" as he was known within the business, set up an indoor range - in the "finished" warehouse where the china was finally picked to fulfil customers' orders. No doubt that area of the factory, at least in the early part of the war, would still have been crammed with the fragile, high quality products on which the Company's reputation was built.

History does not record the extent of regrettable "accidents" resulting from riccochets as the Home Guard honed its skills; nor what the reaction to such unconventional arrangements might have been from some earlier members of the family such as Mr Leslie's grandfather (right), last Mayor of Longton before the office of Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent was established. 21st century collectors of Royal Grafton will simply visualise the scene and wince.


We are indebted to Leslie Jones's son, Mr. Robert Jones, for the above information about his father and permission to publish the family photographs (both of which are © Robert Jones 2007).
Similarly to David Woollam of Shropshire (great-nephew of Lt.-Col. Brown and grandson of Lt.-Col. Shelley) for the information on this page concerning his grandfather and his permission for its publication. (Images of V.B. Shelley © David Woollam 2008/2016)

For other information about this Battalion please see the Meir page. And an attractive memento which bears the name of the Battalion's C.O., Lt.-Col. V.B. Shelley, is shown on this page.