HOME GUARD MEMORIES AND INFORMATION - WARWICKSHIRE

WARWICK
(1st WARWICKSHIRE (WARWICK) BATTALION)
and

Cpl. ERNEST FREDERICK CUSHING

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Cpl. Ernest Frederick Cushing (1909-1993) was a member of "E" Company, 1st Warwickshire (Warwick) Battalion of the Home Guard which defended Warwick and Leamington Spa. He volunteered for service in November 1940 and served until the stand-down in December 1944.

This large Battalion was commanded by Lt. Col. J.H. Alexander, D.S.O,, M.C. in 1941.

Fred Cushing is seen below, probably in the summer of 1944, standing ouside "a pal's, in Leamington". At the time he was in his mid-thirties and was employed at the Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Company Ltd. in Leamington Spa. Whether "E" Coy.'s area of responsibility included the Lockheed works is not known.

The achievements in Fred's life, both before and after his wartime service, were remarkable and were far removed from the skills he acquired for the dealing out of death and destruction which are confirmed by other documentation on this page. Amongst much else he was an accomplished pianist, playing on BBC's Uncle Mac's Children's Hour at the age of 9 and later in dance bands during the 1930s and 1940s at such venues as Birmingham Town Hall and the Queen's Hotel. He also appeared with Victor Sylvester and his involvement with the RSC led to his accompanying such well-known performers as Olivier, Robeson and Valerie Hobson.

As devoted family man - with five children - a sometime special constable, a cricketer, tennis player and swimmer, his life must have been full indeed. But much must have been laid to one side from 1940 onwards as he devoted many hours a week to his Home Guard duties and in so doing developed new interests and skills which, seventy years later, can scarcely be imagined.

In addition to the above photograph, one or two records survive of Fred Cushing's service which indicate some of the new skills which he had learned and become proficient in. During January 1944 whilst still a Lance Corporal he was granted the following Certificate of Proficiency confirming his capabilities with regard to rifle, 36 M grenade, Sten gun, battlecraft, map reading and general knowledge, He had been assessed by some six of his superiors and the certificate bore the final signature of Major R.W. Standring who was probably O.C. of "E" Company. The significance of the red tab is unknown but it might be the proficiency badge referred to in Part II of the Certificate.

The reverse side of the Certificate bears the signature Lt. A.J. Bodfish, obviously Ernest Cushing's Platoon Commander which indicates that at that time he was a member of No. 3 Platoon of "E" Coy.

At the end of his service Ernest Cushing received the King George VIth Certificate expressing gratitude for his contribution to the defence of his town and country - over 4 years of entirely voluntary effort expended in his spare time from a demanding day-job, itself devoted the war effort.

And then finally, after four long years and like so many others, Fred Cushing was able to return to peaceful activities, bringing up his family, enjoying sport, pursuing his career both in the engineering industry and as a professional pianist - all far removed from the ability to wield rifle or Sten gun, or to hurl live grenades at an approaching enemy.

 

In Memory of
Ernest Frederick Cushing
and
All his Comrades in 1st Warwickshire (Warwick) Battalion.

Acknowledgements:
We make grateful acknowledgement to Sarah Cushing for this information concerning her father and for her generous permission for their publication.
              Images© Sarah Cushing 2012

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