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MEMORIES and INFORMATION: 32nd Battn. (16)



(27th or 32nd Staffordshire Battalions)

Pte. John Benton (1920 - 1998 , and known as Jack) was a member of "C" Company of the 32nd Staffordshire (Aldridge) Battalion. "C" Coy's. area of responsibility was in the northern part of the Battalion's territory as can be seen from the Home Guard era map (right, click on image for magnified version). There is more information about the Company here.

Jack Benton
was born into a family who ran Ryders Hayes Farm in Pelsall. He lived initially in Pelsall and later, at the farm near to the Horse and Jockey in Walsall Wood; then in Green Lane, Walsall Wood; and then finally, in the 1950s, in Poxon Road. He always worked in the mining industry, at Walsall Wood Colliery then later at Lea Hall Colliery, Rugeley.  During that time he helped on family farms at the same time as working as a miner.  His work exempted him from military call-up. He retired from the Coal Board in the mid 1980s.

Little is known of Jack's Home Guard service nor of the date when he volunteered, or was conscripted. Confirmation of his affiliation is however contained within the results of a Board which he attended on Wednesday 8th December 1943 at an unknown location within the Battalion area, perhaps, B.H.Q. in Aldridge, Stubbers Green or Barr Beacon.

From it we learn that Jack Benton was certified as proficient in many areas of Home Guard operation:  use of rifle, Sten Carbine and 36M grenade; signalling; battlecraft; field work and General Knowledge - in other words, most of the skills necessary for an infantry soldier and gained through countless hours of training.

The signatories' initials against each category cannot be identified but no doubt belonged to NCO and junior officer instructors. The President of the Board was Major S. A. Goode, M.M., who was either a Company Commander or who had a senior responsibility within the Battalion for training.  And the final authorising signature, on 8th March 1944 after an inexplicable delay, was that of Lt.-Col. Charles Cartwright, Battalion C.O.
(seen right - he also appears in many other parts of this website).

A surviving contemporary image of Jack Benton shows him in the centre of the photograph with his daughter on his knee. This was taken at around the end of the war, perhaps after he had hung up his Home Guard uniform for the last time.

Jack Benton's family history would later contain another Home Guard element. Thomas Richards worked at Birlec, in Aldridge. Long into the future, after this group photograph was taken, Thomas's son married the little girl on her father's knee.

Thomas Richards
(1909 -1976), a coal miner before moving to Birlec, was born and later lived in Station Road, Bloxwich - somewhere near the boundary of the 32nd Staffordshire (Aldridge) Battalion and that of the 27th Staffordshire (Walsall) Battalion. There is so far no evidence to indicate to which of these two battalions he belonged although the stronger likelihood is the 27th.  Family documents indicate that at some time in the 1920s or 1930s he applied to join the Territorial Army. Assuming that he did in fact serve, the military experience he gained would have stood him in very good stead in the Home Guard; and may even have led to an early appointment to a position of authority there - as an N.C.O., perhaps.

Further information about nearby units is contained elsewhere within this website, including Walsall, Pelsall and Walsall Wood. Use the Staffordshire Information Index link below. Or use the SITE SEARCH function)

Grateful acknowledgement is made to Lynn Lynk for this information about her grandfathers.
(Images Lynn Lynk 2020)



C Coy., 32nd BATTN


D16A April 2020