STAFFORDSHIRE HOME GUARD WEBSITE
MEMORIES AND INFORMATION
relating to Home Guard units in
WARWICKSHIRE
      
This is a page within the www.staffshomeguard.co.uk website. To see full contents, go to SITE MAP.

The most  recent addition to this page was on 13th February 2014

This page includes memories of and miscellaneous information about WARWICKSHIRE units.
(Places are listed alphabetically and are based on the 1940s county boundaries).

Similar pages are available elsewhere dealing with  
The 32nd (Aldridge) Battalion and units in Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and All Other Counties
  

BIRMINGHAM
ACOCKS GREEN - ASHTED - ASTON - BORDESLEY GREEN - CASTLE BROMWICH - CENTRAL BIRMINGHAM - DERITEND - EDGBASTON - HANDSWORTH - HARBORNE - HOCKLEY - KINGS HEATH - MOSELEY - NECHELLS - QUINTON - ROBIN HOOD - SELLY OAK - SMALL HEATH - SPARKBROOK - SPARKHILL - STECHFORD -  STOCKLAND GREEN - WITTON and GREAT BARR - WITTON and GEC - WITTON and KYNOCH WORKS
See also the Worcestershire pages

OTHER WARWICKSHIRE LOCATIONS
COVENTRY - HILMORTON - KNOWLE and DORRIDGE - LEAMINGTON - SUTTON COLDFIELD - SUTTON COLDFIELD and BISHOP VESEY'S GRAMMAR SCHOOL - UFTON - WARWICK


BIRMINGHAM

BIRMINGHAM (non-specific areas)

- An overview of the Home Guard in Birmingham in September 1940 is available here.
It includes messages from the Lord Mayor (himself a Battalion commander) and from the HG Zone Commander; images of early parades; portraits of Battalion C.O.s; mention of Dunlop's pigeon post; and
details of Ladywood's own naval force.

- The initial ten Birmingham battalions in September 1940 are listed elsewhere in this website. Their Commanding Officers are identified and images shown.

-  A massive exercise took place over the weekend of 6/7th March 1943 when HG units from Staffordshire and Worcestershire attacked the city from the south and west. The defence of the city was the responsibilty of the Birmingham's own battalions. Around 10,000 men were involved. "Fighting" took place in many areas, the main thrust of the attack concentrating on on Harborne and Selly Oak with subsidiary engagements involving street-by-street penetration of the subutbs - all at the same time as a theoretical aerial bombardment of the city. A contemporary description is available. (New!)

- A short history of Home Guard activities in Birmingham may be seen here. (You will leave this site).

- Birmingham had its own Street Fighting School. There are various pages relating to this School providing information about location, individuals, course details (including the script of a play performed by instructors) and the training area off Bristol Street in the area of Ashley, Wrentham, Essex, Gooch and Kent Streets. Links to these pages are provided within the box to the right. (Contains new information)

- Birmingham City Transport Department was one of the first to form a Home Guard unit in the city, to defend its premises and equipment. See The initial ten Birmingham battalions. The unit eventually expanded to become the 31st and 32nd Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalions. A page in this website gives information on those Battalions and the men who served in them. Recent addition - 5 May 2013

- Memories of Birmingham during WW2, not specifically related to Home Guard activities, are contained within this website:
          A Memory of New Street, Winter 1942/1943
        A Luftwaffe View of Birmingham, November 1940

- The Birmingham History Webring forums contain a wealth of information and reminiscence about Birmingham during WW2. Use the index or the search facility on the site to find particular aspects.

- In the Wolverhampton Borough Cemetery there is a memorial to:
Denham, Alfred Albert, Sergeant, 6th Warwickshire (BSA Birmingham) Bn. Home Guard. Husband of Katie Winifred Denham, of Springfields, Wolverhampton. Died - 12 January, 1941. Aged - 31. 

- Mr. Frederick Jones of an unknown Birmingham unit recalls:

"......When I was in Dad’s Army — you know, the Home Guard - they gave me a Browning automatic. It was slightly larger than other rifles. You had to hold it like that … it was gas operated: a gas cylinder would propel the bullet then return and move the next one into position … the empty cases were sent up and over your head … hell of a thing it was … I fired Springfields, Winchesters, Gud knows what else......
©
Frederick Jones 2005  (From the BBC People's War archive ww.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.)

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BIRMINGHAM, ACOCKS GREEN
Please see
BIRMINGHAM, ROBIN HOOD below.

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BIRMINGHAM, ASHTED
The Ministry of Labour and National Service in Staniforth Street enquires of Messrs. Fellows & Darby Ltd. of Snow Hill whether they wish to make any representation concerning the imminent conscription of their employee, Mr. A. Terry of Ashted, into the Home Guard.
                                                                                       

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BIRMINGHAM, ASTON (see also HOCKLEY and NECHELLS below)

The story of Aston Home Guard's two heroes, Section Leader Alfred Henry George Brunges and Patrol Leader Charles William Lovelace Tozer of the 22nd Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion who won the George Medal for their bravery on the night of October 26th 1940.
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Mr. Arthur Musson remembers his Home Guard service with the Hercules factory unit, part of "D" Coy. of the 25th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion. 
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A contemporary account of an air raid on Aston, on an unknown date and involving Albert, Frederick and Victoria Roads, with which various named members of the 23rd Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion were closely concerned.
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There is a fascinating film clip here showing "D" Coy. of the 23rd Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion parading in Trinity Road and Aston Park. Many individuals are clearly visible and recognisable. (You will leave this site).
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The Astonbrook-through-Astonmanor website contains a number of interesting memories of wartime Aston. (You will leave this site).

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BIRMINGHAM, BORDESLEY GREEN

Here is information on Sgt. Jim Baker of Fordrough Lane and the Bordesley Green Home Guard unit of which he was a member, "B" Coy. of the 39th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion.       

And reminiscences and images from another member of the same unit, Pte. Geoffrey Bennett including the night when he and his section overran Elmdon Airport!

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BIRMINGHAM, CASTLE BROMWICH
Information on the Nuffield Spitfire factory, its Home Guard unit and Edward Johnson who was active in both, can be seen
here.

Another employee and member of the factory HG unit - as well as a trainer of Air Cadets - was Cpl. George Ronald (Ron) Barton whose story is told on a further page of this website.

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BIRMINGHAM, CENTRAL
Click on the thumbnail to see an image of the factory Home Guard unit of J. B. Brooks & Co. Ltd.  (J.B. Brooks's factories, which were subject to incendiary attack, were located in the area of Great Charles St., Livery St., Ludgate Hill and Lionel St. Their products included bicycle and motorcycle saddles and the Antler range of travel goods. Their wartime products included parachutes and harnesses).

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BIRMINGHAM, DERITEND
The linked page stands in memory of the victims of the Bishop Street bombing of the night of 15th/16th October 1940 and in particular the heroism of Section Leader George Walter Inwood of the 10th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion Home Guard for which he received a posthumous George Cross. There were many other acts of great bravery on that dreadful night from a number of people including Messrs Tidball (HG),
Wade (Police), Woodland, Rainbow and Pickersgill (all ARP).

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BIRMINGHAM, EDGBASTON

Pte. E.W. Best of the 36th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion successfully passed his Signalling Test on 16th October 1942.

The 36th Warwickshire Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. A. Scrivener, M.C., (late Royal Warwickshire Regiment) was one of several Home Guard Battalions defending the Edgbaston area of the city.

(with grateful acknowledgement to Mick Ackrill, owner of the original certificate)

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HQ for the Birmingham Zone in which all Birmingham Home Guard Battalions served was in Vicarage Road, Edgbaston. Rex and Charles Owen, brothers both living with their families in Sheldon, were Despatch Riders attached to Zone HQ. Their story is here.

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BIRMINGHAM, HANDSWORTH

The story of Lt. George Harry Griffiths who served with the 44th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion in the unit responsible for the defence of the Great King Street factory of Joseph Lucas Ltd.

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And the story of another member of the same Joseph Lucas group, Lt. Zechariah Tolley M.M., can be read on an associated page. This includes information relating to his Great War service.

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Information concerning a third officer in this Battalion is also available. Lt. Jock Orr was a career sodier and joined the 44th in 1941 after leaving the Regular Army.

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Within an interesting article entitled "Memories of Handsworth" in the Handsworth History website, Paul Holmes relates his family Home Guard connection:

......At the time I was too young to remember have first hand knowledge but I was often told of the Endwood pub (on the far side of the park). According to folklore, my father defended this establishment from a German invasion when he was a member of the Home Guard. It would seem the defensive plan was simple: drink the place dry, leaving nothing for the invaders to plunder. I'm led to understand that the operation turned out to be one of the most successful of WW II, with the enemy not daring to venture within rifle-shot of the place.........

(Full and grateful acknowledgement is made to the above author and website. To read the full article, please click here. Within the same website, here, the author has also published fascinating information about the Hill Top anti-aircraft gun battery . You will leave this website in each case).

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The 46th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion had a responsibility for areas of Handsworth and also I.C.I.'s huge Kynoch Works at Witton.

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BIRMINGHAM, HARBORNE

A 1941 image of the Harborne Home Guard Signals Company can be see here. (You will leave this site).

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Gunner Dennis Nash's story of serving on a Harborne anti-aircraft battery, which includes references to Quinton and Oldbury. (You will leave this site).

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BIRMINGHAM, HOCKLEY

Pte. Joseph Bennett joined the 22nd Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion - which had responsibility for areas of Hockley and Aston - in Decenber 1940 at the age of fourteen-and-a-half and served until stand-down. Click here to read his story.
 (New!)

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Sgt. Thomas George Carlin (1898-1949), seen to the right with his two cadet sons, Norman Thomas (left) and Eric William Henry (right), served in the Coldstream Guards during the Great War  and was a member of the local Home Guard in WW2. Although employed at Wynn Tunnies(?) & Co. he is thought to have been a member of the Bulpitts & Co. factory unit in Camden Street, Hockley.
 (New!)

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Also see BIRMINGHAM, ASTON above for mention of two 22nd Battalion heroes of the Blitz.

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BIRMINGHAM, KINGS HEATH

The story of L/Cpl. Alexander Schadowsky (later Alexander Sinclair), a German national who joined the local Home Guard at a very early age and eventually served in the 71st Warwickshire Home Guard Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, “F” Troop.

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BIRMINGHAM, MOSELEY

The linked page shows an image of No. 4 Platoon of "E" Company of the 24th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion including one of its members, Sgt. Jimmy Brown.     

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BIRMINGHAM, NECHELLS (See also ASTON above)

The 25th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion, previously the 5th, was responsible for this area and its factories as well as parts of Aston. Click the heading above to read about this Battalion and about M.B. Wild & Co. and its activities; the air raid on L.H. Newton & Co.; and the involvement of 2/Lt. Harry Poppitt.

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Home Guard Volunteers A.R. Beesley and A.D. Morrall received Commendations for their work at Nechells Power Station during the blitz of November 1940.

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Click on this thumbnail to see a group of officers of the Nechells unit.     

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BIRMINGHAM, QUINTON
There is information on Quinton in the Worcestershire section of the website.
 (Contains a recent addition)

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BIRMINGHAM, ROBIN HOOD
Lt. E. J. Moon M.C. was an officer in the 42nd Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion of the Home Guard which was responsible for the defence of an area covering Robin Hood, Sparkhill and Acocks Green. His page on this website includes a fully captioned image of the Battalion's officers and details of a celebratory dinner in 1944 at the Imperial Hotel, Birmingham. (Recent addition)

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BIRMINGHAM, SELLY OAK
The 49th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion covered the Selly Oak area (although the 27th had some responsibility for it, at least in the first years of the war). After stand-down a Comrades Association was formed which later evolved into the 49th Rifle and Pistol Club which still exists. There is a web page about the Battalion and its later history here. (You will leave this site).

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BIRMINGHAM, SMALL HEATH

This area of the city was defended by the 37th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion, Home Guard, commanded by Lt.Col. A.L. Paterson, M.C.
One of this Battalion's members was Charles Herbert Skellett. Charles Skellett served in the Great War and in 1940 volunteered for the Home Guard, being appointed sergeant in March 1941. He regrettably did not live to see the peace as he passed away in February 1945, just two months after the Home Guard's stand-down.
His daughter has contacted this website and is appealing for any information about this unit and her father's role in it, and especially for any unit photograph which may have survived. If you can help, please contact this website via Feedback and we shall ensure that all information is passed on.   

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Several Home Guards, members of the 6th Birmingham Battalion, were honoured for their heroic work during the night of 19th/20th November 1940, when the BSA factory was bombed and many employees lost their lives. They were Albert William Bailey who received the George Medal (pictured right) and J.H. Beattie, William Saragine and Joseph Topham, the British Empire Medal.    

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Read the story of a member of the 37th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion. Harold Lucas who worked on Lancaster tooling at William E. Farrer in Heath Mill Lane, Digbeth was later a member of the 107th Warwickshire Battalion which manned an anti-aircraft "Z" rocket battery on Billesley Common.

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See also SPARKBROOK below                                                

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BIRMINGHAM, SPARKBROOK/SMALL HEATH

The life of Lt. Leslie McGregor of the 37th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion is remembered in this website.

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BIRMINGHAM, SPARKHILL

Please see BIRMINGHAM, ROBIN HOOD                                                                                

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BIRMINGHAM, STECHFORD (also ACOCKS GREEN and SOUTH YARDLEY)

Here are images and information concerning the Stechford Home Guard, the 39th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion which included a Rover factory unit, its Grand Concert at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham in December 1941 and one of its long-serving members, Eric Pain.  
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The Copsey brothers of Charles Edward Road, South Yardley had close dealings with local units, the elder, Dennis, with the 38th of which he was a member before being called up as a Bevin Boy; and Len with the 39th which provided help with his military training as a young cadet. Their story is here.

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BIRMINGHAM, STOCKLAND GREEN
Read about the night when John Welch of Hidson Road received a knock on the door from the local Home Guard.

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BIRMINGHAM, WASHWOOD HEATH
Home Guard Volunteer Reuben Haigh, a gas clerk at the Washwood Heath gasholder, was awarded the George Medal for his bravery there during the blitz of November 1940. Vol. S.A. Tyler received an official Commendation for his work during the same incident.  

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BIRMINGHAM, WITTON and GREAT BARR
Mr. Stan Arthurs wrote of his Home Guard experiences for the BBC People's Archive:

".........My story begins in 1939 when I answered a call to join the "Local Defence Volunteers" (LDV). Issued with an armband and a truncheon, I patrolled the outskirts of the GEC at Witton, confident with the information that any German paratrooper, unstable as he landed would be easy meat. This I did for two hours per night, three times a week. Quite rough on a 17 year old working a 48 hour week! Then the "Home Guard". Armed with a Canadian Ross rifle and five rounds, I was stationed on the flat roof of the Clifton cinema at Great Barr. With the bombs whislting overhead and shrapnel falling like rain, our job, again three nights a week, was to sight major city explosions and fires and declare the sighting angle. Together with similar sightings carried out at other high points the convergence gave a near indication of the bombed area.

So, I was pleased in 1941 to be released by my employers to join the RAF.......... "

© Stan Arthurs 2005   To read the rest of this article, entitled The Horsa Glider, please click here.   (You will leave this site.  WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The complete archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.)  

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Mr. Kenneth Laight writes about his father's service at Witton:

My father, Stanley Laight, was in the 46th Battalion. He worked at Higgs Motors as a universal grinder and cutter.

I was born in 1939 and so my recollection of dates is rather unclear. I do recall an event which started at something like a range on the edge of Witton Cemetery - there was some shooting and some bangs and other demonstrations of military activity. Afterwards we all walked to the HQ at Witton where there was some form of entertainment including tea and sandwiches. I am unsure of the date but I assume it was 1944 or 45. I assume this activity was only of platoon size as there were only about 20 soldiers taking part.

I recall my father in uniform and that he did night firewatching which he said was at Higgs Motors, Witton. I also have a recollection that he sometimes brought his rifle home. I presume my father is somewhere on the large photo but could not identify him.

(Grateful thanks to Mr. Laight for this memory. Mr. Laight himself served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a National Serviceman in 1960 and retired in 1994 with the rank of Lt.-Col.)
Recent Addition!

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BIRMINGHAM, WITTON - GEC WORKS

This Company, like all major factories in the area, had its own works Home Guard unit. It was part of the 46th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion. Just one of its members has been so far been identified with reasonable certainty.

Samuel Rhodes (1903-1953) lived in Westwood Road. He had been born in Birmingham but spent his early life from the age of nine in Canada, returning in the mid-1930s. The war years found him working at the G.E.C.

Just two relics from those times survive: his G.E.C. Home Guard lapel badge and an image of him in uniform taken in autumn 1944 with his wife and newly born son.

(Grateful acknowledgement to Julie Thacker, Samuel's granddaughter, for providing this information)

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BIRMINGHAM, WITTON - KYNOCH WORKS
The Kynoch Works at Witton was during the war the Metals Division of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd. and a major contributor to the national war effort. This website contains information on its long history, from 1862 to the present day, some of its wartime experiences and its large Home Guard unit, 'B' Company of the 46th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion. See:    

Kynoch Works Home Guard - main page
Kynoch Works Home Guard - a 1942 report   
Kynoch Works Home Guard and Lt. E. Long
and also
46th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion
Kynoch Works - air raids
History of Kynoch Works 1862-2008
  

                         

 

OTHER WARWICKSHIRE TOWNS AND VILLAGES

COVENTRY

15th Warwickshire (Coventry) Battalion
To see images of and interesting information about the Humber Works Home Guard - part of the 15th Warwickshire (Coventry) Battalion - and about an adjacent battalion, the 16th Warwickshire (Coventry), click here.
(You will leave this site).

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16th Warwickshire (Coventry) Battalion
On Saturday
August 28th 1943 the 16th Warwickshire (Coventry) Battalion held a Gymkhana and Battalion Sports event at the Rugby Football Ground, Coundon Road, Coventry, from early afternoon until dusk. It was an elaborate affair with many displays and competitions involving HG and non-HG participants. The detailed programme of this event, which names many local people ranging from Master Jimmy Clews (aged 3 years and 10 months giving an exhibition of horse-riding) to the Battalion C.O., Lt.-Col. W.H.J. Gould, can be seen here. (See also 15th Battalion, above)

In the winter of 1942, the 16th Warwickshire (Coventry) Battalion received a Defence and Training Instruction, typical of the flood of paperwork pouring down on Home Guard battalions at that time. You can read it here.

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18th Warwickshire (Coventry) Battalion
The Women's section of the 18th Warwickshire (Coventry) Battalion
had their own insignia in the form of a handsome medallion inscribed "18th Warwickshire (Coventry) Battn. Women's Auxiliary Home Guard". This is shown to the right.

(Grateful acknowledgement is made to Mr. Paul Cragg for providing this image. Both he and staffshomeguard would welcome any information about this insignia and the unit it denotes. Not much seems to be known about the 18th Warwickshire and still less about its women's section. Please respond via FEEDBACK)   

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The interesting reminiscences of Mr. George Pearson in his local unit whose HQ was the Bull & Anchor in Wheelwright Lane. (You will leave this site).

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Here is the exciting story of how Pte. Frank W.C. Smith and his Home Guard comrades defended his factory, A.C. Wickman Ltd., from the Drawing Office roof during a daytime attack by a lone Junkers 88 on Friday, January 10th 1941. (You will leave this site).

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Interesting details of life on a Coventry AA Rocket battery in Memorial Park are provided by Mr. H.J. Poulter. (You will leave this site). 

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The Home Guard unit of George Wilson Gas Meters investigates a suspected spy in the factory in Put One Up The Spout Fred. (You will leave this site). 

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After experiencing the blitz in Wallasey, Mrs. Margaret Andrews (nee Parrott) recalls happier times in Coventry:

"........Because our house was destroyed by a bomb we moved to Coventry. I was now 20, and although I had signed up with my age group to join the forces I was sent to Morris Motors. Once again my life changed and I was working in a factory making munitions and new friends who were also strangers to factory life.The memory of Coventry was joining the 18th Battalion Warwickshire Women’s Home Guard, one of the few forces in England. Apart from the bombs life was good with many new friends. We formed a concert party comprised of talented people from the munitions factory who came from all over the country. Our audiences were the RAF and Army boys stationed around Warwickshire.I have very fond memories of the last show of the Home Guard, “This is the Home Guard”, which was held in the Coventry Hippodrome on the 3rd of December 1944. Our audience of over 500 packed the theatre and came from camps all over Warwickshire. That I think is the memory I have of war days. The joy and the pleasure of hearing them sing our songs and their songs; the applause we had was wonderful. At the end of this last show a senior officer thanked us and presented us with a silver medal for all our work. It reads: 18TH WARWICKSHIRE (COVENTRY) BATTN WOMEN’S AUXILIARY HOME GUARD.The war ended in September 1945. We celebrated in London and had the honour of walking in the victory parade.

My experiences in the Home Guard were very different from the war days I knew and went through in my home town. War changes lives but memories live forever. I made many good friends and my family was very fortunate as we all survived.........."

© Margaret Andrews 2004      To read the whole of this interesting memoir in its original setting, the BBC's excellent People's War Archive, please click here.    (You will leave this site.  WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The complete archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.)

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Within a fascinating and moving memoir of a city under attack, A Child's War: In Coventry, Mr. Peter Cox describes a city centre exercise where the local Home Guard takes on a unit of battle-hardened Polish troops.  (You will leave this site).

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HILMORTON
In My War in the Local Defence Volunteers, Mr. Ken Clark gives an interesting description of his service in the Hilmorton unit and later with the Singer Motors factory unit in Coventry.
(You will leave this site).

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KNOWLE and DORRIDGE
A glimpse of an earlier WARWICKSHIRE Home Guard. Click the title to see an image of the Knowle and Dorridge Volunteers in September 1918.

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LEAMINGTON SPA       (See also Warwick)

Sidney Flavel & Co. Ltd. was, and under a different name continues to be, a large factory producing gas appliances. It was big and important enough to justify its own Home Guard platoon as well as other factory defence personnel. The Home Guard unit was part of the 1st Warwickshire (Warwick) Battalion commanded by Lt.-Col. J.H. Alexander, DSO, MC. In that period there was published a regular factory defence newsletter/magazine entitled "Eagle News". Two surviving copies of this, from 1942 and 1944 and mentioning various personnel, have been reproduced. Click here to view.
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"We You Salute - Your Local Dad's Army" by the late Mr. Roy Rowberry (one time private in No. 8 Platoon, "B" Coy., 1st Warwickshire Battn.) is a book published in 1990. It contains much information about the various Home Guard units in Leamington, including the Flavel and Lockheed factory platoons; and contains many illustrations supplied by various private contributors. One assumes that it is long since out of print but second-hand copies can still be obtained. It is well worth the effort of seeking one out.

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SUTTON COLDFIELD

Click here to read about several members of the Sutton unit, the 6th Warwickshire (Sutton) Battalion, including mention of Rupert L. Thomas of Four Oaks and a memoir of Lt. Harold E. Pearce of Boldmere.
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Captain John Reardon Brosch was another member of the 6th Warwickshire. Click to read his story and see group images of units within the Battalion.
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Sgt. William Thornton and Cpl. Douglas Thomas also served in Sutton in the 6th Warwickshire. Read their illustrated story as remembered by William Thornton's son; within it are other memories of the town in wartime and also mention of Cpl. Peter Bate (see below).

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This 1941 diary
written by Cpl. Peter Geoffrey Bate of Mayfield Road provides fascinating glimpses of the Sutton Coldfield Home Guard and of other aspects of life in the town at war.

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The Sutton Coldfield Volunteers, a defence force from an earlier era, were photographed in the town at some time during the Great War. Click on the title to see the image.
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In April 2005 there appeared and was sold on eBay an autograph album which appeared from the illustration to have been beautifully produced. It had been signed and presented to Lt. James Iveson by members of his No. 7 Platoon, "B" Coy., 6th Warwickshire (Sutton) Home Guard - a unit adjoining the 32nd (Aldridge) Battalion - in appreciation of his leadership on the occasion of his being transferred to become Commanding Officer of No. 6 Platoon in September 1941.
      Webmaster….. 17th October 2005

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SUTTON COLDFIELD, BISHOP VESEY'S GRAMMAR SCHOOL

The late Mr. David Riggall, a chemistry master at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School prior to his transfer to essential war work on explosives, provided within his memoirs a glimpse of Civil Defence support duties in Sutton in 1940. This was originally published within the BBC People's War Archive.

"....In January 1940, I moved digs to no 3 Royal Road, Sutton Coldfield, recommended by Mr and Mrs de Jersey (distant relations) who thought I might be put up under better conditions than at 90 Victoria Road......."....On Sunday May 7th 1940, I had my first night at the Report Centre, from 6-11pm, and then two days later I was there from 11pm until 8.30am. Mr Hudspith, the French Master at Bishop Vesey’s, who often invited me to his house in Belwell Lane, had persuaded me to join this Civil Defence job at Sutton Council House. We had to man the telephones out of office hours, taking messages from organisations such as the Auxiliary Fire Service, the Home Guard (called the Local Defence Volunteers or ‘LDV’ at first), and the Rescue Services. We then passed them on as required. It was anticipated that enemy parachutists might be dropped to disrupt services and their location needed to be reported by the public and pin-pointed as soon as possible. If the telephones had broken down we would have had to go out and deliver the messages in person. In fact, we never had anything serious to deal with, only a few ‘suspicious circumstances’ reports and normal peace-time mishaps. We actually had a marvellous time, telling jokes and playing ‘solo’ for halfpennies. If nothing seemed to be happening by about 1 or 2am we unrolled the mattresses provided and went to sleep in the Council Chamber or elsewhere. We went in usually about 3 times a week, on various shifts. One preliminary requirement for this service was to attend a ‘Gas Course’ held at ‘Oakhurst’ in Anchorage Road. This was a series of lectures about the types of gas likely to be used, procedure etc and finished with a practical exercise of putting on a mask and going into a room full of gas (probably ‘tear’ gas).

At the end of November 1940, I changed my digs again, this time to ‘Leafield’ at 31 Clifton Road in Sutton........."

© David Ernest Riggall and family 2005     To read the rest of this article, entitled What did you do in the war Daddy ? (part 1) which includes other mentions of B.V.G.S., please click here.         (You will leave this site.  WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The complete archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.)
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The title of David Riggall's memoir could equally have been adopted by the French master at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School who is briefly mentioned above, Mr. William Hudspith, had he ever written of his experiences. There was rather more to William Hudspith's wartime activities than could ever have been imagined by his colleagues and pupils. Click to read the remarkable story of this Sutton Coldfield Home Guard.  
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It appears that the war had some effect on the academic performance of boys at Bishop Vesey's, or was at least a quotable excuse. In 1941, according to 'A History of Bishop Vesey's Grammar School - The Twentieth Century' by Kerry Osbourne, "thirteen out of twenty-nine boys from form 5M1 failed their School Certificate but the Headmaster explained that they 'were giving a good deal of time to Home Guard duties.'"

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UFTON
In
Colin Birt in a Warwickshire village Home Guard, Mr. Birt remembers his Home Guard service:

"The Home Guard Company and Platoon HQ was at Southam. In Ufton our Section had a sergeant and 9 privates. We were all countrymen, not very good at drill, but all very good shots! Our routine was a parade one evening a week in Ufton Village Hall. Three of us carried out guard duty at Southam HQ overnight once a month. We were guarding the ammunition store, which was one room in a Public House. The rifles were P47 American 'lease lend'. Occasionally we had weekend manoevres, but by Sunday morning most of the privates had disappeared to milk the cows."

© Colin Birt and Warwickshire Libraries 2005     To read the memoir in its original setting, the BBC's excellent People's War Archive, please click here.    (You will leave this site.  WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The complete archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.)


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WARWICK (also covering parts of Leamington Spa)

A memory of the service of Lt. Cecil Fullerton (Pat Fullerton) in the 1st Warwickshire (Warwick) Battalion can be seen here.

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Cpl. Ernest Frederick Cushing, also of the 1st Warwickshire (Warwick) Battalion, is remembered on this page of the website.

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Memories of Warwick Home Guard by Mr. Bernard Grimes and Mr. Tom Leedle in Blackout Duties in Warwick. (You will leave this site).

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An image of, and a plea for more information about Warwick Home Guard's armoured car, which belonged to a unit commanded by the vicar of Marton, the Rev. A. Wilbraham and was apparently bult by Councillor Sam Myers, can be seen here. Can you help the St. John's House Museum find out what happened to it? (You will leave this site).

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Mr. Ian Dellow remembers aspects of his father's Home Guard service in Warwick which will be familiar to many visitors to this site 'of a certain age':

"Prior to the start of the war, the government was eager to have the population ready in case of air raids, should war be declared. My father put himself forward as an ARP Warden, our house becoming a temporary warden’s post, mainly as a distribution centre for gas masks to the locals.
Later, as volunteers were called for the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) my Dad left the ARP and, eventually, became a sergeant in the LDV, later known as the Home Guard.
It fell to my lot to keep his uniform and equipment in good order for his regular parades and exercises. This meant polishing leather gaiters and belt, cleaning rifle, bayonet and any brasses. He would put on his equipment and cycle off to his duty, the rifle slung under the cross bar of his bike. On one occasion, he was pulled up on parade for having his bayonet the wrong way round in it’s scabbard, this leading to me having a telling off as being responsible. Not that I got any pay for my war cleaning contribution.
Dad also had to put in an appearance at his works on occasions to do fire watching, his company having timber stores that were liable to take a liking to incendiary bombs."

© Ian Dellow 2003     To read Mr. Dellow's memoir in its original setting, the BBC's excellent People's War Archive, please click here.    (You will leave this site.  WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The complete archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.)

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Grateful acknowledgement for badge images to Stanley C. Jenkins

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