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MEMORIES and INFORMATION: 32nd Battn. (17)
32nd STAFFORDSHIRE (ALDRIDGE) BATTN. -"F" COY.

WALSALL WOOD



Walsall Wood
was defended by "F" Company of the 32nd Staffordshire (Aldridge) Battalion whose C.O. for much of the war was Lt.-Col. C. Cartwright, D.S.O., M.C.

(See the Battalion area map - left - drawn by the Battalion Adjutant, F.H. Timings - click on it to enlarge).


Col. Cartwright reviewed the role of "F" Coy. in words written immediately after stand-down in December 1944:



....."F" Company..... How well Smith and his loyal lieutenants, Arblaster and Mycock, did look after the creature comforts of their men! I still retain visions of amazing meals on mustering tests.

Smith was in command for a considerable time until one day came re-organization and the size of the company was increased by the inclusion of the Shire Oak Platoon, and the stormy petrel of the battalion, the one and only Torkington, took over command.

I find it difficult to understand, but "F" has always been a tough nut to crack. Even "Talky" could not change the Walsall Wood spots, but I am sure there are men in that locality who will never forget the intrusion of this warrior into their peaceful world. If ever circumstances had demanded action on the part of "F" Company, it would not have failed to give a very good account of itself.......

N.B.
The full article can be read elsewhere within this website.
Capt. E. W. Smith was the local chemist in High StreetLt. G. Mycock was President of Walsall Wood Football Club; and Lt. H. Arblaster was possibly a local farmer.
Their HQ was the Boot Inn, opposite the Horse and Jockey Inn, in the southern part of the village.


Only one image known to show men of the Walsall Wood Company has so far come to light and it is an excellent one.  The precise location - thought to be in Walsall Wood itself -and the date - possibly 1942/43 - cannot yet be confirmed.  The parade is headed by Sgt. Ron Harrison
(1917-2008).



Mr Arthur Wadey, later the trainer at Walsall Wood F.C., was a Bevin Boy in WW2, working in the local coalmine. He was also a member of the Walsall Wood Home Guard. He had won an anonymous plain leather wallet in one of the shooting competitions and treasured it thereafter. An unusual award perhaps? Well, Colonel Cartwright was a manager of a leather firm in Walsall at that time! The competition took place at the shooting butts in the brickworks near Stubbers Green, by the canal.
(N.B. Between 1943 and 1945 one in ten of young men conscripted in Great Britain was directed into working in the coal mines where there was a desperate shortage of labour).
Arthur Wadey is remembered taking part in Platoon or Company route marches in the area: up Castle Road, by the Old Fort, onward to Shire Oak and then back down the Lichfield Road.The local HQ was, as stated above, the Boot Inn, near to the Barons Court Hotel in the south part of the territory.

There was a road block at the Shire Oak junction and its manning and operation would almost certainly have been the responsibility of the local Home Guard unit. This obstruction, consisting of concrete blocks, formed a chicane for traffic coming along the Chester Road (A452) from the Streetly direction. It was removed for convoys. We have to assume that this road block was established as soon as the threat of invasion appeared and lasted until all risk had clearly vanished. This road block was outside Goodings Garage, as it then was. There were further road blocks to the north-west, near to the Rising Sun, adjacent to the junction with Watling Street (A5), and further south-east, along the Chester Road to Streetly and beyond.

The commemorative book on the 32nd Staffordshire Battalion, "Home Guarding", makes a brief reference to training and the siting  of strong points and machine gun posts on the fern-covered slopes which were once Knaves Castle and the Old Fort at Upper Stonnall. All in order to keep the vital Chester Road under close scrutiny and if necessary attack what was trying to pass along it. The suggestion is that such measures were merely a repetition of similar precautions over the previous two millennia.

To find references elsewhere within the site to subjects mentioned above please see:
- 32nd Battalion Information Summary Page (Aldridge, Barr Beacon, Brownhills, Little Aston, Pelsall, Pheasey, Rushall, Shelfield, Streetly, Walsall Wood)
- Index of Surnames and Place Names relating to the 32nd Battalion
- or use the general website Search facility.

Staffshomeguard would welcome any further information which visitors to the page may have; to help us add to the story of the Brownhills Home Guard, please use
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The above image of the parade first appeared in the excellent BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog website. Grateful acknowledgement is made to "Bob"; to Graham Harrison, son of Sgt. Ron Harrison, who provided the image; and to David Evans and Ray Share.
(The HG group image is Graham Harrison 2015)

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D17 May 2015, updated Dec 2017, July 2019