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AND INFORMATION - WORCESTERSHIRE
WORCS. (HALESOWEN) BATTN.
HALESOWEN was defended by the
(Halesowen) Battalion, commanded
Lt-Col. B.J. Keene.
Battalion H.Q. was at The Drill
Hall, Grammar School Lane, Halesowen and
Company/Platoon HQs were located at different places
in and near the town.
members was Sgt. Cyril
Cradley, a chainmaker and a family
man. He was a member of the Battalion's
from 1940 to 1944.
We remember his life and service on this page.
OF CYRIL HODGETTS
was born on 11th September 1894 at
36 Intended Street,
Cradley - the same street as at least
one of his comrades,
George Hussey. He attended the
by St Peter’s,
Cradley where he was awarded a medal
for unbroken school attendance in the period
He left school at the age
of 13 to go to work as a labourer at
Netherton where he ended up as a Heavy
Cable Chain Maker, making 3 or 4 links per day
for cable chains for ships. The work was hard
and unbearably hot and the hours were long -
and especially so for initially a teenager, to
the extent that, during the summer months, he
would start a special 4-hour shift really
early in the mornings before the heat of the
day built up. Cyril, like other
Chainmakers, did not go to war as he, and
they, were needed at Noah Hingley’s and their
jobs were regarded as reserved occupations.
Some of Cyril's pals were nevertheless
called up. He was particularly friendly
with Clarence (Clary) Bowen (Pte.
C. Bowen, no. 33141, M.G.C. Service Battalion
and a postcard from Clary to Cyril from that
time - 14th September 1916 - survives:
Clary had a brother,
It is possible that he was the
Lt. A. Bowen
listed as a member of the Halesowen Home
Cyril was present at Clary's wedding in
1927 to Blanche Head, presumably in the
Halesowen and Cradley area. He is seated on
the left. Could that be Alfred Bowen at
the rear? No doubt it was a joyous
occasion, even if not at the precise moment
when the photographer's flash went off!
Cyril himself married
Hill (1899-1985 - seen left, aged
24, at around the time of their marriage)
on 15th September 1923 at
lived at 16 Drews
Holloway South where they had two
(1926-1959). They also had a black
Labrador Jack who used to guard Hazel's pram
and later another dog, Nip, a Jack
Russell/Staffie cross. Here
is Hazel with Nip.
The photograph below
seems to represent a jokey depiction of a
works fire brigade, The Staffordshire
Lightning Fire Brigade - "In Case of Fire,
Drop Us a Card". Its members are dressed
up perhaps to participate in a 1930s carnival.
Cyril is present (marked with a "X") but, with
the false nose and other facial modifications,
it is difficult to make much out, apart from
the fact that he is enjoying a cigarette.
The vehicle behind gives a rough indication of
date, as does also the use of the German Maltese
Cross: ten or fifteen years later it would
have been a Swastika.
In their home life Cyril and Doris were
good at playing the piano and the organ at
home and, in those pre-TV days, also played
cards, chess and draughts. Cyril was very tall
and athletic, with Hazel being the second
tallest at 5ft 8”, then Alfred and finally
Doris as the smallest of them all - which is
confirmed by a later photograph below.
Cyril was a
good marksman, a skill and interest which he
later passed on to Alfred and which was
shared with a life-long friend of Alfred's,
He is also known to have trained with the
Regiment, but whether this was as a
result of pre-war involvement with the
or whether the memory relates to an aspect
of his Home Guard service, is not known. But
nevertheless the only record we have of his
rank in Home Guard days is of Sergeant - an
appointment which would indicate some
significant personal qualities and technical
skills, especially as Cyril was unable to
offer evidence of Great War military
service; the latter was a qualification for
N.C.O. rank which was almost obligatory in
the earliest period of the Home Guard.
There is a vague family memory of Cyril,
together with a man named Smith, starting up
the local unit of the Local Defence
Volunteers in the summer of 1940 and this
unit, and others, quickly evolved into what
was later called "The Halesowen Home Guard".
(There were, inevitably, a number of men
with the surname Smith in the Battalion but
by 1944 just two in Cyril's Company - "C"
Coy. - amongst those recorded at that time:
Major F.P. Smith, Coy. Commander and
Sgt. H. Smith;
but we cannot know whether either of these
was definitely the man who is remembered.
The men used to assemble at the
Windmill Hill, Cradley, the
and possibly at other places.
is a memory within the family of Cyril
undergoing fire brigade training: whilst
this could have been part of his wartime
service, it is more likely to refer to his
prewar involvement in a works fire brigade,
as indicated in the photograph above. Or
perhaps even to both.
an unknown date, but almost certainly before
1944, Cyril was appointed to be the
at the open range at
Halesowen. There he would have
been responsible for the organisation,
safety and smooth running of this important
training venue, including the looking after
of ammunition, setting up of targets,
supervision of those using the range and so
on. The published history makes little
mention of the
Witley Range and it is difficult to
know whether it was a rifle range where the
men would practise solely with their .300 or
.303 rifles or whether it was the site
where, as surviving photographs of Halesowen
training sessions show
a wider and even more fearsome range of
weaponry was used. Is Cyril shown in any of
Just one photograph survives
definitely showing Cyril in his role of
Range Warden. Here he is, sitting
bottom right, in the company of a group of
men who, the caption tells us, are all
members of No. 19
Platoon, "C" Coy. And the man
sitting alongside him, the Platoon
Commander, is Lt.
G. Hodgetts. It seems too much of a
coincidence that the single photograph
retained within the Hodgetts family papers
showing Cyril in the Home Guard is the one
where he is seated by the side of a man who
shares his surname. Family research has yet
to confirm the relationship - and any family
relationship with a further two men,
and W. Hodgetts
who were also members of the Halesowen Home
Front row: first
from right - Cyril Hodgetts; middle - G.
For names of
other men who are somewhere in this
photograph - see
P. 27 of "Halesowen Home Guard"
(It should be noted
that by 1944 No. 19 Platoon is reported as
being part of "D" Coy., rather than "C" as
stated on the image).
In common with
every other Home Guard Cyril Hodgetts's
service came to an end at the beginning of
December 1944 when all possibility of
invasion or significant incursion was a
thing of the past. On Sunday December 3rd
1944 he would have participated in the
farewell Home Guard parade through the
streets of Halesowen before a crowd who, we
hope, showed their appreciation of the
four-and-a-half long years of voluntary and
demanding service which many of the men,
Cyril included, had given.
the postwar years, Cyril maintained his
interest in shooting which he passed on to
his son, Alfred
and Alfred's friend,
both of whom owned their own guns and
became in their turn good shots. Roy later
married Alfred's sister, Hazel, who by
then was working for the GPO.
is an image of Cyril, Doris and their two
children photographed at a seaside
location, probably in the late 1940s or
early 1950s. The height difference
mentioned above can be clearly seen.
At around the end of the war, Cyril,
then in his mid-fifties, developed
eyesight problems and this caused him to
leave his employment as a chainmaker. He
got a job with the
Motor Company at Longbridge and
travelled there daily from his Cradley
home, 16 Drews
Holloway South, with his son Alfred
who was a draughtsman at the same factory.
Alfred died in 1959 at the age of only
32, in 1959, and his father, Cyril,
followed him on 21st August 1966, aged 71.
They both now rest at
Church, Cradley, together with
within his family
sociable, kind and hard working, a man who
enjoyed to the full his hobbies and his
In Memory of
Sgt. Cyril Hodgetts
all his comrades
is gratefully made
to Mags Adams-Aston for providing this information
about her grandfather and other relatives; and generously
permitting its publication in this website.
Family images ©
Adams family 2021
Other information about the
Halesowen Home Guard (5th Worcestershire
(Halesowen) Battalion), including the contents
of a 1944 history, is available on
the main battalion page of this website;
and about the Worcestershire Home Guard in
general in the
Worcestershire summary page.
Much information about the Home Guard in the county
is also contained in the book
Chronicles of the Worcestershire Home Guard
by Mick Wilks (Logaston Press, 2014, ISBN
978 1 906663 87 2).
And if you
can add anything to the history of the
Guard, and especially the Halesowen unit, please contact staffshomeguard via the
179F - December 2021