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Lt.-Col. Sidney W.G. Walker, M.C., M.M.

The 25th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion was, like several others in Birmingham, an amalgamation of a number of individual factory Home Guard units, in this case in the area of Aston and Nechells. Battalion Headquarters was on the Lichfield Road, near to Aston Station. Its Commanding Officer, Lt.-Col. Sidney W.G. Walker, M.C., M.M., (1897-1970) writing in early 1943, provided a brief summary of its history to date.

The 25th Battalion of the Warwickshire Home Guard was originally the 5th Birmingham Battalion, and the first factory Home Guard Battalion to be formed in this city. It comprises a number of factories, and immediately on the formation of the L.D.V. each factory formed its static unit to protect its own factory. These units very quickly appreciated that the way to defend the factories was not inside, but outside, and in the very early days training commenced, particularly in street fighting. The Battalion was one of the first to forsake the static role.

It is in one way dissimilar to the normal Home Guard Battalion, as now its role is entirely mobile; in fact, the whole training is on counter-attack lines, and specializes both counter attack of open places and within detailed areas. The Battalion has on several occasions demonstrated methods of street fighting to senior officers of other Battalions.

The Battalion is situated in a vulnerable area, and during the 'blitzes' of 1940 did exceptionally good work in fire-fighting and evacuation of civilians from damaged areas and threatened shelters. On one particular occasion over three hundred were moved from beneath a burning building to other shelters three hundred yards away, without loss to the civilians. Two men were killed and two wounded in this process.

(The incident mentioned above occurred at the premises of L.H. Newton & Co. Ltd., in Thimble Mill Lane, Nechells during the night of 9th/10th April 1941. Further information is on this page of this website).

Below is a group of 25th Warwickshire officers, with Lt.-Col. Walker in the middle of the front row.

Apart from Lt.-Col. Walker, no other faces have been identified and the make-up of the group is unclear: the numbers present only represent about a third of the total complement of officers serving in this Battalion.

At around the time of writing the summary quoted above, Lt.-Col. Walker had concluded that the Battalion needed more commissioned officers and he started a Battalion Officers' Training School Unit (O.C.T.U.), the first in the area. One trainee was Lt. Arthur Musson; he was a member of the factory-based Hercules unit in Aston, part of the Battalion's "D" Company, and his memories of those years can been seen on this page of the website. Another officer serving in the Battalion may also have been a trainee. He was 2/Lt. Harry Poppitt whose story also appears in this website.


Grateful acknowledgement is made to Ruth Lotinga for providing the group image and information about Lt.-Col. Walker, her father; and generously permitting their publication.
Ruth Lotinga 2015

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x125 - November 2015