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On 29th December, 1940, we had our first Ceremonial. We paraded in mass on the Walsall Wood Football Club ground, and then "walked" round Shire Oak and dismissed on the same ground. This was contrary to Security Orders at the time - all section leaders carried a bandolier of live ammunition - but we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, although on the march we got strung out to the length of a brigade.

Through those early days we were building up a certain military sense, and although we ran very hard long before we could walk, and were not receiving individual training I feel now that those days did more good than harm and helped to build up an esprit de corps which remained with us to the end.

In the Autumn of 1941, and repeated in 1942, we ran a series of Mustering tests, into which the companies entered with enthusiasm. For three consecutive weekends, companies in turn were mustered at their H.Q. from about 16.00 hours on the Saturday until 14.30 hours on Sunday. The men had to sleep in whatever accommodation was available, meals were cooked with very literally improvised ovens and each company had a night exercise on its defences followed by another in the morning. It was hard work and entailed a considerable amount of preparation in securing the necessary variety of food, and it was surprising how well the work was done, and, in fact, sometimes too well done, for a certain amount of rivalry developed as to which company could feed their men the best.


Shall I ever forget the breakfast I once shared with "F" Company!

It is quite impossible for me to mention every Exercise in which we took part. Sufficient is for me to recall such curious titles as "Crackers", "Baloney", "Cat", "Sifter", and "Alarma", the mere mention of which will enable those who took part in them to fill in the blanks.

There is one Exercise which stands out as worthy of note before leaving this particular subject. This was when in 1943, we put the whole battalion at the disposal of the Civil Defence and provided them with casualties, refugees, and looters for them to handle on a large scale. I do not believe our men entered into the spirit of any exercise better than they did in that. Particularly that very tough crowd of looters which descended on the Sabbath peace of Aldridge. They may have been a trained band of film actors. So well did they play their parts that there are certain neighbours of ours who will not forget their performance, even if, as I hope, they have forgiven them.

A source of interference with our training was the Course. In the early part of the War, Denbies was about the only course which catered for the Home Guard, but with 1941 and 1942 came every possible course the War Office and other commands could devise. Altcar, Bishops Tachbrooke, Doddington down to Burnhill and finally Aldridge Lodge. So it became increasingly difficult for the battalion commander to keep up the pace of