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 HOME GUARD MEMORIES AND INFORMATION - WARWICKSHIRE

4th BIRMINGHAM BATTALION
and
Lt.-Col. E. H. ROBINSON, D.S.O., M.C.


The 4th Birmingham Battalion was one of the initial ten Home Guard battalions established in Birmingham in June 1940.  It was commanded by Major (later Lt.-Col.) E.H. Robinson D.S.O., M.C(1890-1968). Later in 1940 it was superseded by one or more of the new Battalions which were established at that time, in particular the 24th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion which Lt.-Col. Robinson commanded for the rest of the war.

During that time Lt.-Col. Robinson was Headmaster of Moseley Grammar School.  His record in the Great War was remarkable. As an officer in the King's Shropshire Light Infantry he was wounded on several occasions and was highly decorated: he was awarded the D.S.O. with a later bar; and the M. C., again with a bar. His war record is admirably described in detail within the website of the Old Moseleians Association, and the article can be accessed here.

The above article contains an image which is entitled "The 4th Birmingham Brigade" and a higher definition version of it is shown below, with a caption giving full names of all present.  The original caption has been supplemented by further information about the rank and Battalion affiliation of those officers whose names appear in the Home Guard Western Command List of February 1941. That information appears in brackets after each name. 



Moseley Grammar School
Names from the Left
(including 1941 rank and affiliation in brackets, where applicable)

BACK ROW
2/Lt HT Brockhurst, 2/Lt JRC Goodwin, 2/Lt DW Spafford, Capt. CR Boyson, 2/Lt RA Soanes, 2/Lt LJ Tracey, 2/Lt WJ Flattery, 2/Lt CJ Sharpe
THIRD ROW
Lt E Wood, Lt KV Perks, Lt KR Frazier, Lt HHW Smith, Lt RH Roberts, Lt WL Mackie, Lt C King, Lt GE Smith, Lt CC Spiers, 2/Lt E Williams
SECOND ROW
Capt WE Fletcher (24th Warks), Capt JJ Merrick (42nd Warks), Capt JDF Findlay (24th Warks) , Capt RM Beck (Lt 24th Warks) , Capt RWS Mackay (2/Lt 42nd Warks), Capt JW Gillespie (2/Lt 24th Warks), Capt DF Price, Capt EM Spafford (2/Lt 24th Warks),
Capt RR Eldridge, Capt HH Verralls, Capt HV Wollaston, Capt LE Bayliss
FRONT ROW
Lt Col RS Smith (Lt 38th Warks) , Lt Col JS Irving (CO 38th Warks), Maj EH Harris, Maj EV Hardaker MC (Capt 24th Warks), Lt Col CH Hill (Major 24th Warks), Col EH Robinson, DSO, MC (Lt Col CO 24th Warks), Maj W McLean (Cameronians) ,
Maj WH Veal (Lt 24th Warks), Maj JH Crosskey MC (MO 24th Warks), Lt Col AV Parsons (Capt 24th Warks), Maj AW Evans (Capt 25th Warks)

Further information
Capt. J. W. Gillespie (second row) was an ex-army PT instructor and a PE Master at Moseley until about 1957 or 58.
Col. E. H. Robinson (front row) was Headmaster of Moseley G.S.
Lt. Col. C H Hill to his right may or may not be the Charlie Hill who taught maths at the school for many years after the war.



Webmaster's note

There are difficulties in the interpretation of this image, possibly associated with the fact that the caption was in all probability not contemporary but applied at a much later date. These have not yet been satisfcatorily resolved. There are various possibilities:


1. The image DOES show the 4th Birmingham Brigade in 1940 (or, more correctly, the 4th Birmingham Battalion).
In the middle of the picture is Lt.-Col. Robinson, C.O. of that Battalion. Several of the senior officers present are known to be members (often with a much reduced rank) of other Battalions which evolved from the 4th some time before February 1941. Nobody seems to be wearing Battalion insignia. The number of officers is about right for a Battalion.

BUT
- expert opinion is that the uniform of at least one officer dates from post-June 1942; and the lack of service chevrons on the right wrist suggests a date earlier than February 1944.
- none of the less junior officers in the rear two rows features in the 1941 Officers list for Western Command. Some may have joined Home Guard units in different parts of the country but it would be astonishing that none of them served in the Midlands area.

2. The image shows a 1940 gathering of both Home Guard and Army officers, perhaps with an association with Moseley Grammar School in common.
This explains the lack of Home Guard involvement of many of the men shown.

BUT
- the junior officers cover a wide range of ages -- not just newly commissioned young men. There are even Great War veterans amongst them. The latter are unlikely to have been serving Army officers; but why do they not appear in 1941 HG records?
- how have such a large number of serving Army officers been assembled in one place in the second half of 1940?

3. As 2 above but at a later date, either in 1943/4 or even post-war.
This might explain the lack of a 1941 HG involvement as officers for many of the men - they may have been commissioned later; and, if post-war, the lack of insignia. It might also explain the discrepancy between the stated rank on the caption for some, and the official rank in 1941, the caption thus showing the rank ultimately achieved.

BUT
- if the image dates from the war years, before the standdown of the Home Guard: why the lack of Battalion insignia on men known to have been attached to specific Midlands HG Battalions? And, again, how could such a large number of serving Army officers have been assembled in 1943 or 1944?
- if post-war, what would the incentive have been and what was the occasion for the assembly of so many officers?

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Grateful acknowledgement is made to
the Old Moselians Association; to Mr. Keith Townsend through whose good offices this information became available to staffshomeguard; and to Austin Ruddy for information on uniforms.

Image and information Old Moselians Association 2015


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x116 March 2015