GUARD MEMORIES AND
INFORMATION - WARWICKSHIRE, BIRMINGHAM
is a page within the www.staffshomeguard.co.uk
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relates a family memory from 1940/1941 involving a
late-night knock on the door from the Stockland Green
contingent of the Home Guard, possibly a unit within
the 31st Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion.
My mother's father,
moved in with my father and mother
during the war.
He was living in Brantley
Road, Witton and then moved to
Road, Marsh Hill. Although there was
an Anderson shelter in the garden the favourite
spot during air raids was in the pantry close to
the stairs where my Mother, her first born son and
her Father shoehorned in whilst Hitler's bombers
looked for the ICI and GEC.
My father was often
holed up in Bournville
Power Station for several nights hoping
that Jerry hadn't got that station on their list
or that he wasn't blown off his bike as he cycled
the many miles from Erdington to Bournville and
back. He slept under a heavy wooden table when on
night shift with only a cat and mice for companions.
I was on the way in 1941 and my Mother knitted furiously
in the bombing raids to prepare for my birth. Mother
told me how frightened she was most of the time
especially after that menace Lord Haw-Haw would
spell out local targets for that evening's bombing
via the radio. We had several incendiary bombs in
the Hidson Road area and one direct hit on a house
in Woolmore Road
not far from the Woolmore entrance to Witton Lakes
Park. But we were very lucky overall compared to
the inner city areas and suburbs of Erdington.
My Grandfather was
very restless. He was 80 years old. Mom and Dad
removed the bulbs from the landing and hall lights.
The large long window on the stairs then didn't
have to have any black out since everyone used shaded
torches to find their way around on the stairs and
in the hall.
his own torch and frequently used to get up in the
night to make tea. He was unsteady on the stairs
and would flash his torch around all over the place
on his way to the kitchen. My parents didn't know
about this and one night there was a loud knock
on the front door. It was the Home Guard. My parents
were informed that for several nights strange darting
lights had been seen coming from our landing window
and were going straight up into the sky. The officer
wanted to know what was going on. It some time before
it was realized that Grandfather was the culprit....almost
accused of signalling to the German aeroplanes that
came over frequently.
Thankfully all was
sorted out and a blackout curtain was hastily made
for the landing window!!!
Such seemingly trivial
activities were an important part of the Home Guard's
work, especially in the earlier period when the fear
of fifth columnist operations was at its highest.
Often the local unit was acting in response to a report
from a member of the public. Elsewhere
in this site similar incidents are described, these
not far away in Streetly/Little Aston. This is the
night log of one platoon.
hrs. Guard mounted. O.P. manned. Weather cloudy,
22.40 Visited by Company Commander and
2 i/c. Issued with sixteen
23.15 Visited by Orderly Officer.
23.50 'Phone message received from Deputy
Warden: "Flashing lights reported by occupant
of 164, Rosemary Hill Road, in
direction of Shenstone and Lichfield."
Two men sent to investigate. Found to be flares
used by Military at Owlets Farm, 1½
miles from Shenstone.
23.45 Patrol contacted by searchlight unit.
02.45 Sirens sounded. 'Planes very active.
Bombs and A.A. fire.
03.00 O.P. re-manned. Clear sky.
03.30 Visit by Orderly Officer.
03.50 All clear.
04.05 Sirens sounded. 'Planes over.
05.15 All clear.
06.00 Guard dismissed.
An officer of that unit later writes
about other similar incidents, typical of every Home
The "flashing lights"
keep our Guards busy and frequently involve long
journeys and long and patient investigation before
being cleared. Each report is investigated: one
concerned a report of a local inhabitant that each
night intermittent lights resembling signalling
were visible from Rookery Wood in a north-westerly
direction. It takes the whole platoon two hours
and an organised scheme with three observation posts
and with synchronised watches recording each flash
to determine that the lights were masked headlights
of cars topping a rise on the Chester Road a mile
and a half away.
The Guard Book contains constant
reference to a "bright" light seen each
night at a certain spot. This proves on investigation
to be a red railway signal light at Aldridge, three
miles away. These checks are made almost nightly,
and such reports, common in most H.G. units, tend
to illustrate the effectiveness of countless watching
eyes peering into the darkness throughout the country
and the improbability of any serious happening which
is not instantly spotted and reported.
Welch, his torch and his need for a cuppa
was just another incident, typical of so many at a time
when the blackness was total and the faintest unexplained
glimmer would be investigated. It would have been logged
and perhaps, somewhere, the record of it survives.....
Acknowledgement: We thank
"jennyann", a member of the excellent Birmingham
History webring forum, for providing the above
story and generously allowing us to reproduce it in
There's another memory of Hidson
Road in WW2
(You will leave this site).