THE initial formalities are over. Eden has broadcast (read
the text here) and within the hour the local
police have been besieged by eager enquirers for enrolment forms.
Our detailed life histories have been submitted and, presumably,
vetted. A lot of organising work has been done behind the scenes
by our Sub Group Commander and his Second in Command, and a
preliminary meeting of would-be Local Defence Volunteers has
been held in our Parish Hall (see the invitation here). And now on a day of early June
1940, we parade (or perhaps "gather" would be a more
suitable term) at Little Aston Stables and find our names amongst
a list of men who are destined to form a platoon of the L.D.V.
A roll call, more filling up of forms. The
Platoon Commander is chosen after a query by the Company Commander
: "Any man here with army experience and who has a car?"
A few minutes later, an infantry private of the last war takes
his first parade. N.C.Os. are created by similar methods.
We can take no risks at this stage
and all section leaders must have previous Army training.
The Platoon falls in two deep - drill in threes is as yet
an unravelled mystery.
A very willing bunch of all ages from sixty to
fifteen, from all walks of life, and
in all sorts of civilian clothes - office and works attire,
flannel bags, and gardening dress. One man is carrying his umbrella.
A mere handful with previous military experience. A few more
particulars required, a division of the Platoon into sections,
arrangements for guard duties are made, a spin of a coin for
our platoon number, and the Platoon, eventually to be known
as No. 5 "B" Company, 32nd (Aldridge) Battalion, South
Staffordshire Home Guard, is formed.
Parades start in real earnest. All are keen and are most
willing to learn. We all, including the instructors, make
many mistakes. We work on musketry, loading and sighting,
field work and the parade ground, the duties of sentries,
and then more musketry. This active work is a splendid antidote
to the sickening thoughts of the time, of Germany and Italy
and perhaps Japan against Britain now standing alone. As the
old lady said at the height of the London Blitz : "There's
one good thing about all this bombing, it takes your mind
off the war."
We sadly lack equipment. Six Pl4 rifles for a company 140
strong, and those have to be fetched from and returned, after