Continuing the Remembrance theme here on the blog today, here’s a lovely bit of research into the Home Guard locally by the wonderful David Evans and John Sale.
I’m particularly glad to receive a contribution from John, as being one too the prominent and longstanding local historians whose work this blog stands upon. John’s work with Bill Mayo on books and curating their photo collections is legendary.
Here John and David answer one of the pressing local wartime questions: Just where did the Home Guard practive their shooting?
It’s worth pointing out here once more the great resource for people interested in the local home guard history: the Staffs Home Guard website – click here to visit it.
Thanks to both gentlemen for a lovely article, and if you remember anything, or have anything to say, please do. Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
David Evans Worte:
In the immediate post-war years of my childhood, stories of the war abounded. The deadly air raids, the sirens, these tales often elaborated from reality it now turns out, but this map has recently been published in the wonderful Home Guard site, and it intrigues me.
The Home Guard in Walsall Wood had its own character, and stories of F company’s route marches have passed in to local folk lore. However, the exact location of the shooting butts. in Streetly and near Stubbers Green have remained a mystery. Until now.
Mr John Sale is a well-known local historian whose works are a valuable source of accurate information and personal photos. In a friendly chat with him recently I was delighted to learn of the existence and location of one of the Home Guard shooting ranges. John told me where and when the Aldridge E company trained there. He recalled seeing the soldiers march past his home in Leighswood Road on to the canal, then along the towpath to the Wharf Canal bridge, and then to a disused mound, a heap of red ash. He described it as being a tip from a disused coalmine, and it was near the old marl holes and on the towpath side of the canal.
John mentioned the Sunday morning Home Guard shooting practices, and the Monday retrieval of spent bullets from the mound, performed by the local lads!
The commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel Charles Cartwright DSO, MC who lived in this large house in Leighswood Road, and seen in John’s photo. The house was later converted into the printing firm Millington and York’s offices, and was recently demolished.
The house was the headquarters of the local Company, seen here in front of one of the out- buildings at the rear of Colonel Cartwright’s house.
This is John’s photo of the building, and his notes on it:
This is an aerial view, 1945 and clearly visible is the spoil mound to the left of the canal, below the large pool in the centre of the image
A Mr Arthur Wadey, formerly the trainer at Walsall Wood FC, had been a Bevan Boy, working in the local coalmine, and 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. An unusual award perhaps? Well, Colonel Cartwright was a manager of a leather firm in Walsall at that time!
I would like to thank Mr John Sale for allowing me to scan and copy his photos, and for sharing his invaluable personal memories, enabling another piece of our local history to be documented and recorded.
Thank you, John.