|| On 29th December,
1940, we had our first Ceremonial. We paraded in mass on the
Walsall Wood Football Club ground, and then "walked"
round Shire Oak and dismissed on the same ground. This was
contrary to Security Orders at the time - all section leaders
carried a bandolier of live ammunition - but we thoroughly
enjoyed the experience, although on the march we got strung
out to the length of a brigade.
Through those early days we were building up a certain
military sense, and although we ran very hard long before
we could walk, and were not receiving individual training
I feel now that those days did more good than harm and helped
to build up an esprit de corps which remained with us to
In the Autumn of 1941, and repeated in 1942, we ran a series
of Mustering tests, into which the companies entered with
enthusiasm. For three consecutive weekends, companies in
turn were mustered at their H.Q. from about 16.00 hours
on the Saturday until 14.30 hours on Sunday. The men had
to sleep in whatever accommodation was available, meals
were cooked with very literally improvised ovens and each
company had a night exercise on its defences followed by
another in the morning. It was hard work and entailed a
considerable amount of preparation in securing the necessary
variety of food, and it was surprising how well the work
was done, and, in fact, sometimes too well done, for a certain
amount of rivalry developed as to which company could feed
their men the best.
| Shall I ever forget
the breakfast I once shared with "F" Company!
It is quite impossible for me to mention every Exercise
in which we took part. Sufficient is for me to recall such
curious titles as "Crackers", "Baloney",
"Cat", "Sifter", and "Alarma",
the mere mention of which will enable those who took part
in them to fill in the blanks.
There is one Exercise which stands out as worthy of note
before leaving this particular subject. This was when in
1943, we put the whole battalion at the disposal of the
Civil Defence and provided them with casualties, refugees,
and looters for them to handle on a large scale. I do not
believe our men entered into the spirit of any exercise
better than they did in that. Particularly that very tough
crowd of looters which descended on the Sabbath peace of
Aldridge. They may have been a trained band of film actors.
So well did they play their parts that there are certain
neighbours of ours who will not forget their performance,
even if, as I hope, they have forgiven them.
A source of interference with our training was the Course.
In the early part of the War, Denbies was about the only
course which catered for the Home Guard, but with 1941 and
1942 came every possible course the War Office and other
commands could devise. Altcar, Bishops Tachbrooke, Doddington
down to Burnhill and finally Aldridge Lodge. So it became
increasingly difficult for the battalion commander to keep
up the pace of