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The Kynoch Home Guard unit, more officially "B" Company, 46th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion, operated on the Kynoch Works site at Witton, Birmingham.

Kynoch Works was at the time the main site of Imperial Chemicals Industries Metals Division, a large organisation heavily involved in the production of semi-fabricated non-ferrous metals, ammunition and many other products for the war effort both on this site and on others in the Midlands and elsewhere. Its history can be read here within this website.

In 1942/1943 a description of the Home Guard activities of a large Warwickshire factory unit was written and published. Because of the continuing threat the identity of the unit and the factory was not divulged at the time. There are however sufficient clues within the text to indicate beyond little doubt that the subject was in fact Kynoch Works. It is reproduced in its entirety below.


At first only ex-servicemen were enrolled, and all these volunteers possessed in the way of a distinguishing mark was the white arm-band carrying the letters 'L.D.V.' There was no uniform or equipment and very few weapons. We were lucky, however, in having a Proof Department which possessed all kinds of arms, and to whom the Company was, and still is for that matter, indebted for the loan of various items in this category.

As all our L.D.V.s had been trained in the use of firearms that part of training was considered unnecessary, and a defence scheme was evolved for the factory which embraced the care of certain buildings and locations vital to the working of the factory. This was effected by detailing armed sentries and patrols in certain locations for day and night service, two fixed machine-gun posts, and three centrally located reserve squads. At the same time trip barriers were erected in the sports field to trap aeroplanes which might be tempted to land.

The role of the L.D.V in those days was solely that of static defence of the factory, and by September some thirty-five posts had been erected at strategic points in and around the periphery of the factory. Manning arrangements were then completed, the general scheme having been based on the premise that the most likely forms of attack to be expected were :
     (a) Parachute troops landing in or near the factory.
     (b) Infantry landing from transport planes.
     (c) Treacherous action by enemy agents or Fifth Columnists.
For this purpose machine-guns were erected at various points and arrangements made for reinforcing possibly hard pressed units within the area. A former tennis pavilion* located centrally within the works was taken over as the L.D.V. Company Headquarters, and a man installed to deal with administrative matters.

In October, 1940, the title L.D.V. was dropped and Home Guard substituted, and in the following month we received our first issue of uniform, an exciting moment, but all we obtained for our men was thirty twill uniforms of various sizes with sundry caps, belts, etc., but it was realized that we were at last becoming something of a military unit. By this time, also, the Company was beginning to take definite shape, a Commanding Officer and junior officers were appointed and approved by higher authority. In December, 1940, the Government having appointed a Director General for the Home Guard in Major General T. R. Eastwood, a visit was paid by that officer to inspect the unit and to examine the general strategic defence plan. The Director General was accompanied by General Sir Walter Kirke , and at the close of the visit it was gratifying to receive from him a highly satisfactory report in respect of personnel, equipment, training and general arrangements.

With 1941 the Home Guard became more of a military organisation, more clothing coming forward, more men being enlisted, and in February the local Home Guard organisation underwent a complete transformation, so that we became 'B' Company of -- Battalion Home Guard. 'B' Company comprised three platoons, with a commanding officer, a second-in-command, six subaltern officers and an administrative officer, the last-named being employed full-time on Home Guard duties.

At the same time the general strategic plan for the local factory units of the Home Guard was considerably altered in conception, the general principle now being accepted not to wait for the enemy to come to the factory gate, but to go out and meet him with the idea of preventing him from doing serious damage by getting so close to the works. This involved a much more extensive training programme, and to a greater degree this meant that the Home Guard was placed on a similar footing to the Regular Army, both in regard to organisation and training, and calling for much more time to be spent on training than previously.

During the winters of 1940 and 1941 the district suffered a series of very heavy aerial bombing attacks, in the course of which incendiary and high-explosive bombs fell within the factory precincts, necessitating prompt action on the part of the defence organisation, in which the Home Guard played no small part. Incendiaries then presented no serious difficulty, some thousands of which fell one night, and the Home Guard not having enough spades or other implements, just used their steel helmets for shovelling damp earth to smother bombs which had fallen in dangerous situations. These raids invariably took place at night, and whether it was the location of an exploded H.E. or the extinguishing of incendiary bombs and fires, the Home Guard members vied with each other in their eagerness to be of help, often having to be forcibly restrained from endangering themselves in their efforts to assist in the work.

Recruiting has continued through 1941 until early in 1942, when it was suspended as the numerical ceiling had been attained. The company is now divided into seven platoons, and the average time spent outside work hours on Home Guard duties by the officers is often nearly 100 per month. The Company is now completely clothed, deficiency, if any, is, of course, made up with the Sten guns recently issued, while the Company is fortunate in possessing 15 machine guns.

Training comprises arms drill, field tactics, signalling, intelligence, use of bombs; while at weekends, exercises and field training supplement the closer work done during the week. The company provides a weekend cadre of two officers and sixty men for specially vulnerable points in the factory, besides those for special guard duties at Battalion Headquarters, and as our men only have one day's break in seven and work up to seventy hours a week, these duties call for a degree of physical fitness and endurance which sometimes taxes their capacity to the utmost, and as every effort must be made to avoid interference with production (the factory from which our men is drawn is on 'No. 1' priority) there is often no little difficulty in so fitting things in that no embarrassment is caused to shop managers and the like.

On the lighter side, the company has formed an Entertainments Committee which arranges dances, concerts and other social activities, from the proceeds of which funds have been established to provide amenities for the men during their periods of duty.

* This probably refers to an unusual and ornate workshop in the middle of the site. It started life as a "pavilion" in the old Aston Park and was henceforth always known by that name. Whether it ever had anything to do with tennis is open to question.

     History of Kynoch Works
     Kynoch Works Home Guard - main page
Kynoch Works Home Guard and Lt. E. Long
     Kynoch Works - air raids
Kynoch Works Home Guard (a 1944 image)
46th Battalion Officers' List and 1944 Parade
Kynoch Works WW2 War Memorial
Kynoch People - 1961
Kynoch Site Images - 1961