Guard Book contains constant reference to a "bright"
light seen each night at a certain spot. This proves on investigation
to be a red railway signal light at Aldridge, three miles
away. These checks are made almost nightly, and such reports,
common in most H.G. units, tend to illustrate the effectiveness
of countless watching eyes peering into the darkness throughout
the country and the improbability of any serious happening
which is not instantly spotted and reported.
We get our share of the usual scares. Immediately following
an air raid one night, during which low-flying 'planes are
observed, the Guard receive a report at 03.00 hours from
the local Fire Service that parachutes have been seen falling
in Streetly Wood. The information is immediately checked
back by telephone to local A.R.P. to H.Q. A.R.P. in Lichfield,
who state the report was received from an Aldridge policeman.
Enquiry here discloses the source of the report a patrolling
policeman, who saw white puffs in the sky in the Streetly
direction. Having had similar experience before, we recognise
the description as A.A. shellbursts, but, nevertheless,
must check up. Neighbouring guards are warned and we patrol
the whole area by car until full daylight. Farm workers
on their way to work that morning find a bayonet against
their ribs and a demand for identity cards.
Sometimes during the almost nightly raids, the whole area
is ringed with burning incendiaries and the men on duty
experience a feeling of utter impotence when wondering how
their wives and families are faring. It's a great temptation,
but none succumbs.
Equipment is pouring in. We wear our denim
suits with their very badly fitting collars, L.D.V. arm-bands,
and civilian shoes. Then, in August, the boots arrive, with
the immediate result of 100 per cent. improvement in smartness
throughout the platoon on the parade ground and on the march.
The training, too, has become intensified.
One man brings Mills-bomb casings ("over the wall"
from some factory or other) and we instruct on priming,
throwing, and mechanism; bayonet fighting, in the last war
style, including four butt strokes; L.M.G's., Bren, B.A.R.;
Molotov Cocktails, each man making and throwing his own;
gas, defence works, and protection against rifle fire; fieldcraft,
use of cover, movement and formations; camouflage; instruction
on enemy methods and weapons; emergency stations, knowledge
of Platoon area, strong points, road blocks, with frequent
instruction on the operational job of each man.
Our machine-gun sergeant visits the Guard
for two hours every night for three weeks to spread a good
basis of instruction throughout the Platoon on mechanism
and handling of the Browning automatic rifle. Our Company
M.G. instructor takes additional parades on M.G. training
and the popularity of these persists throughout the duration
of the Platoon.
(Images of the Platoon can be seen on this page)