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HOME GUARD MEMORIES AND INFORMATION - WARWICKSHIRE, BIRMINGHAM

23rd WARWICKSHIRE (BIRMINGHAM) BATTN.
ERDINGTON

 
Lt. LESLIE BEARD
and
ARTILLERY WEAPONS TRAINING
UMBERSLADE PARK


The
23rd Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion bore the responsibility of defending the Erdington area of Birmingham.  It was commanded, first, by Lt.-Col. S.A. Godsall, M.C., and later by Lt.-Col E.W. Walker.

Another officer in the Battalion was
Lt. Leslie Beard (right). His story is contained on an associated page of this website:
 Lt. Beard and the 23rd Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battn.

Amongst the extensive training which Leslie Beard and his comrades underwent in the course of their Home Guard service was participation in at least one Artillery Weapons Training Course. This was held at Umberslade Park, Hockley Heath which was the venue for many such courses of varying duration for Midlands Home Guard men. Images survive of that activity and are displayed on this page.

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The venue, Umberslade Park, Hockley Heath, Warwickshire:
The home of C.M.D. Weapon Training School, Umberslade Park, commanded by Major G. W. Tedder - its prospectus (date unknown):
Starting small - a 23rd Battalion member firing the Blacker Bombard Spigot Mortar:
The 23rd Battalion was obviously equipped with the Blacker Bombard and here are three men taking aim. The venue is not Umberslade but their own territory in Erdington, in Grange Road (see aerial views of the site). No doubt the men are demonstrating what has been learned at Umberslade:
Back at Umberslade, a group of Battalion officers discuss a target or gun position:
 (Leslie nearest the camera)

Battalion members move on to a larger artillery piece, the Ordnance QF 2-pounder, a 40mm anti-tank piece issued to the Home Guard from 1942 onwards.  This quick-firing weapon was suitable for use against relatively lightly armoured vehicles or personnel.  The next four images show the weapon, having been towed into position, being prepared for firing:
(Leslie second from right; Army instructor extreme right)
(Leslie second left)
All prepared and ready for firing:

A group of instructors and trainees (not necessarily all of the 23rd Battn.):
This may be the accommodation at Umberslade for a summer weekend visit:
The opportunity for a bit of leisure time and fooling around (Leslie front left):
And finally the end of the stay. On Wood End station looking towards Snow Hill and central Birmingham and beyond, to the men's homes in Erdington. Probably late Sunday afternoon. What have one or two of the men seen above? Otherwise it's a time for a cigarette or pipe as they patiently await the train from Stratford. (See more recent views of this platform):
(Leslie third from right)

In memory of

Lt. Leslie Beard

and all his comrades
in
23rd Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion,
Home Guard


Grateful acknowledgement
is made to John Wright, and other family members, for the information about his grandfather and their generous permission for its publication; to Mick Ackrill; to members of the excellent Birmingham History Forum, especially "oldMohawk" and "Pedrocut", for information on Erdington locations; and to Chris Kolonko.
Images John Wright 2017

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x148B - May 2017