AND INFORMATION - WARWICKSHIRE
SUTTON COLDFIELD HOME GUARD
BATE'S 1941 DIARY
is a page within the www.staffshomeguard.co.uk website.
see full contents, go to SITE
1941 DIARY OF CORPORAL PETER BATE,
6th WARWICKSHIRE (SUTTON) BATTALION
Mr. Peter Geoffrey Bate contributed his wartime
diary to the BBC's Archive of WW2 memories in June 2004.
Amongst its several sections (all
listed here and including both his previous HG service
in London and his later years in the Royal Artillery) his
record of 1941 when he moved with his parents to Mayfield
Road, Sutton Coldfield will be of particular interest to
all those who know Sutton. It is reproduced in full below. (Please
see the foot of this page for acknowledgements.)
Play table tennis in the Inter-station
Fire Brigade Finals. We win!
Return my Home Guard uniform and equipment
to the local HQ.
Say farewell to the Arts and Crafts
School and the London Fire Brigade.
In Dad’s car from Kidbrooke to Sutton
Coldfield, slipping and sliding all the way on roads covered
with frozen snow.
Move into 22 Mayfield Road, Sutton
First day for weeks with no air raids.
Mike arrives from Dymchurch on 3 days
Heavy snowfall makes Sutton Park look
like fairyland. Start work in the Sales Office of the Dunlop
Rubber Company — a job arranged by Dad, who has also got
Tig a position at the Dole Office. Report to the Sutton
Home Guard in the evening. They have a little canteen, where
the “Squire’s daughters” serve soft roes on toast — delicious.
First week’s pay from ”The Dunlop”
- £1/6/3d (£1.31).
Elected Secretary of the Mayfield Road Fire Watchers and
Fighters. Arrange duty roster for the residents — 2 per
night for each side, equipped with whistles and stirrup
Mike’s 21st Birthday. He arrives with
Gladys for a one-day visit — I give him a pewter tankard,
Dad gives him a set of Seton Merriman’s books.
Stick of incendiary bombs falls in
the gardens of Mayfield Road. Baptism of fire for our Watchers
Mike marries Gladys in Colwyn Bay.
Big raid on Birmingham —aircraft droning back and forth
over Sutton — bombs falling and buildings burning in the
city. Twelve German ‘planes shot down.
Letter from London — our house in
Kidbrooke has been blown clean off its foundation by a bomb
in the next-door garden, and will have to be demolished.
Home Guard manoeuvres “All over Sutton
Park” under the command of one Corporal Douglas Thomas (The
start of a friendship which has lasted over 60 years.)
(In June Peter Bate celebrates his eighteenth
Promoted to corporal again — half
a year since I had to give up my stripes on leaving London.
Had a celebratory drink with Douglas, after practising Guard
Mounting Drill in Sutton Park.
Leave Sutton Coldfield with Douglas
on heavily-laden bikes, on our way to Torquay — some 200
miles to the South West. (Douglas was Cpl. Douglas Thomas, another member of the Sutton Home Guard. See another page in this website which remembers Douglas's service and also this eventful wartime holiday in South Devon).
July 27 to Aug 3
At Douglas’s mother’s hotel in Torquay.
Hiking, swimming, drinking Scrumpy and scoffing Mrs Thomas’s
Back in Sutton.
Dad (on my bike) and Joan off for
five days, to Cirencester, Wells, Cheddar, and Gloucester.
Joan applies to join the Women’s Land
To a rehearsal of “Cavalleria Rusticana” by the Sutton Operatic
Society. Sounds good, so fork out the ten shillings (£0.50)
Hear on the news that all fire brigades
have been nationalised and are looking for staff. Write
to the Birmingham office of the new National Fire Service,
applying for a job.
Last day at The Dunlop. Take a bottle
of port to the office for my farewell party.
Start work at the Birmingham Fire
Brigade - £2/10/0 (£2.50)
Awarded my crossed swords as a P.T.
Instructor, to wear over my stripes.
Joan home for the weekend, en route
to a farm in Warwick, looking very sharp in her Women’s
Land Army uniform.
Issued with my N.F.S. uniform, tin
hat and service respirator.
First air raid for 65 days. Wet drill
and smoke drill at Shadwell Street Fire Station.
Miss the last bus after a late rehearsal.
Walk soprano Elaine Ritchie to her home. (This becomes a
November 13 to 15
“Cavalleria Rusticana” at Sutton Town
Hall. Very well received. Whisky Macs at the “Three Tuns”
with Elaine after each performance.
Shattered by the news of the sinking
of the “Prince of Wales” and the “Repulse”. Ring Elaine,
and agree to cheer ourselves up by having supper at her
service club and going to the cinema.
Dad leaves Birmingham to become District
Manpower Officer at Hanley, Staffs.
On Christmas Eve, Dad had arrived
from Hanley with a chicken, and Joan came in late from her
farm in Leamington, bringing 12 eggs, a rabbit and 4 pounds
of pig. Traditional present distribution at 0845 hours,
eggs and bacon, chat, lunch of chicken and pork, chat. Elaine
and Douglas came at tea time — games and singing till 2300
To a New Year’s Eve dance at the Maney Dance Hall with Elaine.
She expects to join the army next month, and my call-up
is also imminent, so our ways are parting. Escort her to
Highbridge Road at 0050, then home to ring Mum in Hanley,
to wish her a Happy New Year.
Peter Geoffrey Bate 2004
This article appears within the BBC's WW2 People's War
website under the heading "WW2 People's War - Memories
2" by Peter Geoffrey Bate. The original article may
be seen here.
WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories
contributed by members of the public and gathered by the
BBC. The archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.
Grateful acknowledgement is made to the BBC and to the author
for the creation of this record under terms which permit
its reproduction on this website.