and INFORMATION: 32nd Battn. (8)
No. 16 PLATOON, HELLIWELLS LTD.
is a page within the www.staffshomeguard.co.uk website. To
see full contents, go to SITE
This photograph, dating from
1944, shows No. 16 Platoon, 32nd (Aldridge) Battalion, South
Staffordshire Home Guard. This unit was based on
Ltd., Walsall Airport and its members were presumably all
Helliwells employees. It probably formed part of either "G"
Coy., Rushall, under the command of
Capt. T. Chapman M.C.,
or "E" Coy., Aldridge under
Major F.P. Stephens,
Identification of the
men pictured would be warmly welcomed.
Third row from
the front, the tall man fourth from the right:
Ludford (d.1989, a draughtsman at Helliwells at the time of
his Home Guard service).
middle left: Herbert (Bert) Whitehouse
are grateful to June Whitehouse, for giving us a
glimpse of her father, Herbert Whitehouse
known as Bert, seen right);
and of life at Helliwells in the war years. Bert and
his wife were married in 1936 and lived in Great Barr
for a further twenty-five years.
Bert Whitehouse was unable to enter
the regular forces because of a perforated eardrum. So
he went to work at Helliwells where they repaired
damaged aircraft. At some stage he joined the Home
Guard and was part of the factory platoon. After the
war he left Helliwells and after a period of
self-employment as a piano tuner he returned to the
aircraft industry, first at
Armstrong Whitworth at
working on the Argosy aircraft and later to
Herman Smith in
Dudley who were doing
work on Rolls-Royce aircraft engines. Bert retained
a lifelong interest in aircraft.
One memory is of
the Company's Christmas Party for children of
employees with its Father Christmas and party hats.
During the party, the children were smuggled into the
hangar one by one and June had the privilege of
sitting in the cockpit of a Mosquito.
did air raid duty around the local homes, as well as
at the aerodrome. She has a vivid memory of standing
at the front door with her mother, her father standing
at the garden gate, when there was a loud noise like a
train going past fast – apparently it was a bomb
coming down somewhere nearby. She was flattened behind
the door with her mother on top of her. But
fortunately, no harm done - which is why, 80 years
later, we are now able to commemorate the life and
service of Bert Whitehouse.
Grateful acknowledgement is
made to Mr. Peter Ludford for providing a scan of an original
print of the above group image and for the identification of his father;
and to June Whitehouse for information about her father and
for personal memories.
similar image of this group which originally appeared on this
page was copied, with his kind permission, from Mr. Alton Douglas's
"Memories of Walsall, A Pictorial
Record", published by Brewin Books Ltd. The ISBN reference
is: 1 85858 116 8. Mr. Douglas has produced many fascinating
books with a similar historical theme, covering much of the
West Midlands. A link to his website is to be found on this