to the Aldridge Police Station, three miles away, where they
are locked in a police cell for safe keeping. We acquire .303
dummies and clips by private means, we practice loading in
all positions and checking aim against an aiming disc, meanwhile
bitten to hell by the gnats. We relearn parade-ground stuff,
sloping and ordering arms by numbers, an N.C.O.
correcting. The first time we do this, after correcting one
particularly bad slope in every way possible, the "victim"
remarks with considerable heat : "Do you want this
*** rifle, sir?" and walks off the parade ground. We
never see him again.
We parade with drill in threes, field work,
patrols, cover and camouflage, the latter prompted by the
thought that a man may live a little longer unseen. We get
to know our territory and our O.P., which is now manned
at dawn and dusk with a section on duty each night. We construct
a strong point amid many divergent views on the subject
of siting. We acquire maps and set
up a plate with cardinal points of the compass on our O.P.
on the Hall roof, but later, observing that the sun is setting
in the north, we realise that either a miracle has happened
or our orientation is at fault. We make the most of every
available minute and arrange parades every night, but as
the same men turn up every time we drop to three parades
per week and get satisfactory attendances.
We issue a training programme, on 14th June, 1940. Musketry
covering all essentials, rudiments of squad drill, knowledge
of the country including contact with military authority,
telephones, etc., patrols and their duties, scouting and
the use of cover. The programme ends :
"On completion of this course the volunteer will be
regarded as competent to carry out full duties."
Such is the urgency of the time as illustrated by Operational
Orders No. 1 received by telephone from Battalion H.Q. at
23.15 hours on 5th July, 1940, reading as follows :
Reliable reports state that attack on this
country is imminent. Attack may take the form of intensive
aerial bombardment, landing by paratroops or landings from
troop-carrying planes, and attack by sea.
(a) Companies will obtain and report definite
information of any such attempt.
(b) Companies will pin down, defeat and
destroy any enemy who may land, by active attack with every
weapon available, whether lethal or improvised. Defence
will always be active.
2(b) does not mean attacks
by small patrols and/or posts on large posts of enemy, but
by surprise effect of controlled fire from carefully pre-selected
positions. The observation posts, patrol posts and barriers,
will be defended with vigour and determination.
There must not be and will not be any question of retirement.