HOME GUARD MEMORIES AND INFORMATION - WARWICKSHIRE, BIRMINGHAM

STECHFORD  HOME GUARD
39th WARWICKSHIRE (BIRMINGHAM) BATTN.

FUND-RAISING CONCERT PROGRAMME
Sunday 7th December 1941

(HIGH DEFINITION VERSIONS)

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(Please see the panel at the foot of this page for further information about the
39th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion and its members)

The 39th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion, under the command of Lt.-Col. A. G. Stolley,  had a responsibility for the area covering Stechford and Bordesley Green. This page of the website describes a significant fund-raising event organised by the Battalion in December 1941 and also includes images of all the units within the Battalion.

First, a bit of background.....


THE HOME GUARD IN 1941
By the autumn of 1941 the Home Guard had already celebrated its first birthday. Much training had been done and was continuing, members had proper uniforms, the level of armament had been transformed compared with the early, desperate days and a significant
esprit de corps had developed in almost every battalion. The 39th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion would have been no exception.

As units throughout the country settled down into their role in the community they served, activities of a more social nature started to emerge. Sometimes these were sporting competitions, designed to instil a spirit of inter-unit rivalry as well as to encourage general physical fitness; or shooting championships.

From a very early stage units had also recognised the need to have a fund of private money for use at its own discretion in a variety of circumstances. The latter could include the purchase of items, not part of normal issue, intended to make the lot of members less uncomfortable as they undertook their duties (and in the earliest days even to obtain essential equipment like tin hats more quickly); to relieve hardship for individual Home Guards; and to support social activities such as dances and children's Christmas parties. These funds were partly built up and maintained by traditional fund-raising activities.


THE 39th WARWICKSHIRE (BIRMINGHAM) BATTALION FUND-RAISER
From surviving evidence it appears that the 39th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion were particularly professional in this aspect of their activity. The prospect of invasion might have reduced from the virtual certainty of 1940. But it remained a definite possibility, even a probability: much depended on the extent to which the Russians could withstand the German onslaught and in the autumn of 1941 that was looking doubtful. So the Home Guard knew that it might well be called upon and was still striving to make itself, through intensive training, planning and preparation, the most effective force possible. Nevertheless the 39th felt that it had the time and energy simultaneously to organise a major fund-raising event, a concert.

 













THE PERFORMERS
Many performers that afternoon may well have been amateurs but some of the participants were very much professionals. Amongst them was Thelma White of Harborne who trod the boards of Midlands theatres in the 1930s and 1940s with "Volunteer Howell and Lilley". Howell and Lilley were a well-known comedy act and the men were members of the Home Guard as their title suggests. Harry Howell lived at that time in Ollerton Road, Yardley. The accompanist, Billy Lewis, was also a professional musician. (More information on Howell and Lilley is available within this Birmingham History forum thread).

AND AFTER THE SHOW........
Eventually, after a rousing finale, all the members, friends and supporters of the 39th Battalion, no doubt still clutching their copy of this Programme, streamed out of the theatre into the pitch blackness of a battered John Bright Street.

As they exchanged opinions as to whether Sgt. X had been "a bit weak" or whether the performance of Volunteer Y should be regarded as the triumph of the afternoon, far away and still wholly unknown to them, some 360 heavily armed aircraft were by now in the air. And long before many of these worthy Birmingham citizens had reached their homes in Stechford and elsewhere in the city, via bus and tram, the first torpedoes and armour-piercing bombs were raining down upon the U.S. Pacific Fleet at its moorings in Pearl Harbor.

It would probably be the following day before anyone heard or read the news; but there can be little doubt that it, and not the previous afternoon's entertainment, would be the main topic of discussion in factory and office that Monday morning.

Sunday, December 7th, 1941 - a momentous day indeed.........  

INFORMATION ON THE 39th WARKS. (BIRMINGHAM) BATTN.
WITHIN THIS WEBSITE

is contained in the following pages
The 39th Battalion and Pte. William Henry Bryan
The 39th Battalion and Pte. Geoffrey Bennett
The 39th Battalion and Eric Pain
The 39th Battalion and Sgt. Jim Baker
The 39th Battalion and the Copsey Brothers
Warwickshire - Birmingham, Stechford Summary page
The 39th Battalion's 1941 Concert (this page)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Grateful acknowledgement is made to several correspondents for making these images available to staffshomeguard: John Chawner, USA;  David Fry, Marton; and David G. P. Morse.

  

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  54c - 2009; revised Dec 2017