HOME GUARD MEMORIES AND INFORMATION - WARWICKSHIRE, BIRMINGHAM
BORDESLEY GREEN HOME GUARD
(39th WARWICKSHIRE (BIRMINGHAM) BATTALION)
Pte. GEOFFREY BENNETT
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Private Geoffrey Bennett was a member of "B" Company,
39th Warwickshire (Birmingham) Battalion of the Home Guard
part of whose area of responsibility was Bordesley Green. He is seen in the centre of the photograph below together with five of his comrades in arms. It was 1943 and he was 17 at the time. That picture, like the group on this page, was taken outside
Saltley College. Geoffrey Bennett was not himself stationed at the College but did guard duty there from his base at
Finnemore Road Girls School, Bordesley Green.
He was later transferred to the Rocket Battery in
Yardley before joining the Army and seeing service in Europe and Palestine.
Staffshomeguard is most grateful to Mr Bennett for having written the following reminiscences about his service in the Home Guard.
It was a summer evening in 1942. On the previous Sunday morning on parade the whole of "B" Company had been told to report on the following Wednesday evening for an inspection by the Battalion Commander, a Colonel Paterson. This rang a bell for me, I worked for the same man at Charles H. Pugh Ltd. (Atco Mowers). At 7.30 on the due date there I was, pushed on to the front rank by my mates, having been silly enough to tell them of my problem. The Colonel came along asking questions from various members until he got to me. He stopped dead in his tracks and said " I know you! 9-oclock tomorrow morning, my office, explanation" The following morning he told me I had to get out of the H.G. as I was only 16 years old and so I replied "Does that mean all my mates as well? " The answer was "YES".
Two weeks went by. The Company C.O. realised that he had lost a lot of members of his Company and so we were all told to report again and not to mention the incident in the future. I left the firm soon afterwards and so all was well.
During the summer of 1943 I was still a member of "B" Company, 39th Battalion Warwickshire Home Guard, stationed at the Girls School, Finnemore Road, Bordesley Green. One Saturday night we were on manoeuvres around the Marston Green area. Having done what we had set out to do and being near the then "Elmdon Airport" at 5 a.m. on the Sunday morning the Sergeant of my platoon said "Let's see what the defences are like on the airfield." We then approached the place gingerly, about 30 of us, but soon found there was no need for caution of any kind. We went over the perimeter fence with ease and just walked towards the main building with not a soul in sight. All around us were petrol trucks, aircraft etc. - all the paraphernalia of an airbase in wartime. Not one person did we find on guard duty. Yes, you are right in thinking they were all in bed, they were fast asleep with not a care in the world, what a cushy number! We did realise that it could be the Fleet Air Arm there as one of the runways was in the shape of an Aircraft Carrier Deck. There was quite a panic when we woke them up, " Don`t tell anyone" was heard a few times. Our sergeant had to report it but we heard no more about the incident. I wonder if they did!
Would young men do it today? Work long hours and then do a night on Guard from 20.00 to 06.00 hours and then be at work for 08.00 for another hard day’s work, and that was for 3 bob a night (15p). I must add though that some of the best years of my life were during the war.
Geoffrey Bennett also appears in this larger group (front row, 3rd from right) photographed in the same location.
- "Col. Paterson" was Lt. Col. A.L. Paterson M.C. who was already listed as Battalion C.O. in February 1941.
- Another group from "B" Coy, 39th Battn. showing some of the same faces is to be seen on "Sgt. Jim Baker's page".
We make grateful acknowledgement to Geoffrey Bennett for these memories and his generous permission for their publication.
Images© Geoffrey Bennett 2010