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Lieutenant Ernest E. Long (1898-1983) worked from the 1930s up until 1947 at the Kynoch works of ICI Metals Ltd. at Witton. During WW2 he was a member of the factory Home Guard until stand-down in December 1944. The Kynoch unit was "B" Company, one of five Companies of the 46th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion whose main area of responsibility was areas of Handsworth.

Like so many of his contemporaries Lt. Long had served in the Great War. He was a member of a group known at the time, 1914, as the Jersey Contingent. This may have been one of the ruses employed by under-aged lads eager to join-up. They did their training in Ireland with an Irish regiment. He served at Ypres and either there or elswhere was awarded the Military Medal.

Surviving records still preserved within Lt. Long's family provide us with a glimpse of his life during the years of WW2. One of these indicates that during his Home Guard service he attended a special instruction course to learn more about various types of hand grenades and bombs. This course which was residential and occupied an entire week was held at the Altcar Rifle Ranges in Lancashire. It occurred in March 1943 and Ernest Long was at that time a sergeant. (A detailed description by another man attending a similar course at the same location but at a somewhat earlier date is contained elsewhere in this website).

Sgt. Long's certificate survives.

At some time after that he was promoted to Second Lieutenant. Here is his Military Identity Card issued a year later in Warwick.

Lieutenant Long appears in at least two published images of ceremonial events which took place in Birmingham. The first is a march-past in Broad Street, past the Hall of Memory, where he is marching in the front rank behind the officer with the baton. (The shiny boots are noteworthy: it is probable that the gloss was the work of the son who contributed all this information some 68 years later!) The date is unknown: but formal public parades took place every year in May to mark the anniversary of the Home Guard's creation. This may have been just such an occasion.

He appears again below, participating in a parade which took place in 1943 or 1944 and in which the majority of Battalion members, including the Kynoch Company, will have participated. He is in the third rank, first file on the left after the band.

The precise location of this event has been identified with the generous help of a visitor to this website who advises that it was taken at WITTON BARRACKS. Part of the KYNOCH (ICI Metals) buildings are shown at the rear of the photo and the houses are in Witton Road. The larger building after the houses is a Billiard Hall. Some time after the war the Post Office Telephones (GPO and later BT) used the old barracks as one of their centres. The land now is part of Aston Villa F.C.  

Click on the above image to see a magnified version of it and also a 1944 officers' list

Within Lt. Long's papers there survives an image of many of the members of "B" Coy., the Kynoch unit.

Click on the above image to see a greatly magnified and partially captioned version

An official Company history dates the above image as 1944. It was taken in the Company sports field, off Holford Drive at the Perry Barr end of the site. The pavilion is in the background. The foliage suggests that it may have been another May photograph. Not all men who served in the unit at various times are probably shown here: some had been transferred by then to anti-aircraft battery duties. Lt. Ernest Long is seated in the second row, 6th from the left. At 7th is the Company 2 i/c, Capt. H. O. Smaldon and then, 8th, the Coy. C.O., Major H. D. Cann. Lt. R. King is 3rd from the left in the same row. Other officers are also present and among them are certainly some of those listed on the right; they are those serving in the Coy. at time of stand-down, December 1944. It would serve the memory of all these men well, whether they were privates, NCOs or officers, if more names could be put to faces.

Several documents survive which marked the standdown of the Home Guard at the end of 1944, including a series of Special Orders from on high. The first of these came from the highest of all, H.M. King George VIth, and this is a copy received by "B" Coy:

A Special Order of the Day came from the C. in C. Home Forces:

This was followed by a second, issued by Lieutenant-General D. G. Watson CB, CBE, MC, who was General Officer commanding the Western Command, of which the West Midlands units were all a part.

The officers of 46th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion held a Guest Night at Aston Barracks on 10th November 1944. Whilst no programme from this event seems to have survived, a commemorative document does. The latter contains a group photograph taken during the evening. (Ernest Long is sixth from the left in the second row).

It also includes a complete list of the Battalion's officers at stand-down, most of whom are presumably included above:

and finally a message of gratitude from the Battalion C.O., Lt.-Col. Cedric W. P. Blackmore:

"B" Company held its own celebration to mark the end of their service. On Saturday, December 2, 1944 a farewell dinner was held for all members of the Company, the Kynoch factory unit. This almost certainly took place in one of the Kynoch factory canteens of which there was more than one, the site at that time accommodating some 15,000 people. Again, a record survives:

And thus after 4½ years of unrelenting service, delivered with enthusiasm, good humour and loyalty to country and community, the full-time attention of Kynoch Home Guard members reverted finally to family, work and peaceful pursuits.

Let this page stand as a modest tribute to Lt. Ernest Long, his comrades at Kynoch, and, beyond, to all members of the 46th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion.

May their dedication and sacrifice never be forgotten.

We make grateful acknowledgement to Gerry Long for this information about his father and his generous permission for its publication; and also to Ted Rudge for help in establishing the location of the big parade pictured above - his local history website is: Winson Green to Brookfields.      
Images © Gerry Long 2010


   Kynoch Works Home Guard - main page  
Kynoch Works Home Guard - a 1942 report
46th Battalion Officers' List and 1944 Parade
Kynoch Works Home Guard (a 1944 image)
Kynoch Works - air raids
History of Kynoch Works
Kynoch Works WW2 War Memorial
Kynoch People - 1961
Kynoch Site Images - 1961