|| Early in 1942,
largely through the efforts of Major (later Lieut.-Col.) G.
B. Partridge, "H" Sector were able to open a Grenade
Range at the Chuckery, near WalsaIl. I may add that the Chuckery
was not given its name by the Battalion wag, as so many appear
to believe. After some instruction in the various weapons,
parties were paraded for "live" throwing, chiefly
of the Mills grenade, but also, to a certain extent, of such
excitements as Sticky bombs and "73" grenades. These
practices resulted in the bulk of the Battalion strength having
thrown their quota of live bombs.
Speaking of the Chuckery recalls one incident which happened
there and which might only too easily have had a tragic
sequel but for the presence of mind and bravery of C.S.M.
(later Lieut.) Mark Harris of "A" Coy. One of
the details in the throwing bay, where Harris was on duty,
was rather nervous. In throwing the grenade (which was fitted
with a 4-second fuse) he fumbled and slipped, cutting his
forehead on the revetment of the bay. The grenade landed
on the edge of the parapet and the thrower fell to the ground,
making it impossible for Harris to carry out the drill and
clear the bay. Harris then picked up the grenade and was
about to throw it clear, when the man started to rise and
in so doing knocked the grenade out of his hand on to the
floor of the bay. Again Harris picked it up and threw it
clear, at the same time forcing the other to keep below
the parapet. The grenade exploded some four feet from the
bay whilst still in
| the air and, unfortunately,
some fragments lodged in Harris's arm. This was the
only injury sustained in what might easily have led to fatal
casualties, and for his action on this day Harris received
a certificate for gallantry from the G.O.C. Western Command.
C.S.M. Harris was a most useful "aider and abetter"
throughout Major Hodgkin's service with the Battalion, and
it would be difficult to find a better instructor. In addition
to his Company duties he gave much time to helping with
bombing and other weapon training throughout the Battalion,
in which his thorough knowledge and outstanding personality
achieved noteworthy results.
In the early part of 1942, a fairly liberal supply of sub-artillery
had been received, and to try and encourage interest, especially
in spigot mortars, it was decided to hold a Battalion Competition
for drill on the Blacker at the end of July. The opportunity
was taken by Major Hodgkin to give the Battalion a first-class
demonstration of all the gadgets at that time available.
The Battalion marched in a body through Walsall to the Chuckery
range, where the salute was taken by the Sector Commander.
There followed the spigot mortar drill competition, which
was narrowly won by "B" Coy. The rest of the morning
was taken up with the firing of mortars. Although only inert
ammunition could be used on this range, even this was quite
a thrill, as many of the teams had never fired before. In
the afternoon a team from the original "G" Coy,
in charge of Lieut. Hooper, gave a demonstration of