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SIDE-LIGHTS AND HIGHLIGHTS
It hasn't been all work. Shooting was not
in the curriculum, but when it was suggested that we did
a little shooting, the idea was hailed with delight. Most
of the tuition devolved on Sergt.-Major McElhone. I wonder
did he enjoy it ? No idea of his feelings about us could
be got from him, but from the funny little chuckles he emitted,
I have an idea he was not exactly averse to the job. One
of our number has made the suggestion that "he took
his life in his hands each time he went to the butts to
check up". Not he! In his sternest tones he made us
lay down the rifle and absolutely forbade us to touch it
again till he gave the command. Some practised first with
the smaller rifle, but it fell to my own lot to have that
cumbersome service rifle for my first real practice.
One evening, two car-loads of us went out
to Little Hardwick, taking Sergt.-Major Mac with us. Several
girls did very well with that very small piece of paper
he called the target. When it came to my turn a "darkness
came over the face of the earth", the wind blew - it
rained, and the tiny target fluttered wildly - so did my
heart. Amid a nasty shower of cold rain I shot off my five
cartridges as fast as I could. I can here confess that I
knew not where or at what I aimed. I just wanted to be rid
of them and to rise from the unsympathetic ground. Sergt.-Major
Mac said I was "gun shy". Shy? I was gun-terrified!
My shoulder next day testified to the fact that there is
a real "kick" in shooting. I like the gun better
now and am not afraid to come to grips with it.
Gertrude Shaw and Eileen Jones, who is our
youngest member, later did very well in a competition with
Walsall Women Home Guards. Later in the year we had a friendly
competition between ourselves arranged for us by Major Trevor-Jones,
I believe. At any rate, it was he who came provided with
the very desirable prizes. The venue was Brownhills, in
a quarry there, and the Sunday morning a real soaker. It
was not a great deterrent, and ten of us went along. Col.
Cartwright was present and took the keenest interest in
all that went on. The shoot was according to military rules
and the "details" laid down and stood up again
at the word of command. On this shoot it was Janet Wright
of Great Barr who took the honours with a very high percentage
of marks. She had a miniature silver cup, the second prize-winner,
Mrs. D. Cope, and the third, Margaret Hackett, also having
silver souvenirs of this Sunday.
We were afterwards entertained to lunch
at the Station Hotel, and I think the officers present enjoyed
the occasion as much as we did.
On the following Sunday we were able, in
some measure, to repay this hospitality, for we went to
the Beacon Hut to help prepare and serve lunch to the Officers
of the Battalion, some of whom were very appreciative and
said the presence of the ladies "made a difference".
Another highlight is the day of the Home
Guard Sports at Aldridge, when, for the first time, the
women took a major part. (......continues.....)