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Written by Grafton Maggs
Seventy five years ago, (on May 17th 1940, to be exact), Alvar Liddell finished reading the nine o’ clock news. It made sad listening and, instead of signing off in his customary way, he went on to make a special announcement “…of paramount importance…..” that Anthony Eden, the Secretary of State for War, was to speak to the people of Britain.
Eden appealed to all uncommitted civilian males on our shores, to come forward and volunteer for service in a part time army.
This was the first step in the formation of of the Local Defence Volunteers - the LDV.
Almost instantly, a million and a half men came forward to serve Britain in its hour of direst need!
Winston Churchill marvelled at the response, the magnitude of which inspired him to grant this unpaid body of irregulars a more noble designation:
“The Home Guard”.
It was soon to be recognised as an official part of the British Army and to come under its direct command.
Across the country, countless books have been written about this fine body of volunteers, including the Swansea and Mumbles units, and many detailed accounts of the 12th Glamorgan (Swansea) Battalion Home Guard rest in our archives.
Published in the Parish Magazine and also, with painstaking accuracy by John Powell (on his excellent website), the story of C Company (Mumbles) Home Guard, has been recorded and, as a result, is preserved for posterity.
To repeat all that again is unnecessary, but, to mark this special occasion and pay tribute, surely some gesture must be made!
Here let us look, searchingly, at a photograph of the Mumbles Home Guard; C Company of the 12th Gln. Battalion. It was taken up the Castle Field on a cold sharp February morning in 1941. These are the original members of that Company.
Here, as never before (or since!) is captured a cross section of the manhood of Mumbles, as it was at that time! All walks of life are intermingled! Schoolboys, barely 16 years of age, rub shoulders with World War 1 veterans in their forties and fifties. Solicitors rubbed shoulders with the humblest of labourers and, surprisingly, the labourers didn’t seem to mind. Here and there are dotted men of more advanced years- often Boer War veterans.
Where are the doddering old incompetents, the butt of humour in the Music Halls?
Look too! Hardly a face is not smiling or radiating good will! These men were delighted to be in this situation; offering their time and services, freely with enthusiasm, enjoying the moment and the shared camaraderie. All social barriers were down and an enthusiasm reigned that never waned to the last parade in November 1944.
This photograph demonstrates that in these earliest of days, equipment and uniform was in short supply. Other ranks are wearing the official, double breasted army greatcoat- a garment of top quality, but, underneath these greatcoats are ill fitting denims. These are so slack fitting, especially around the collar, as to expose the civilian collar and tie (readily seen in the photograph)! Khaki arm bands with the black lettered designation - “Home Guard”- are worn on right arms.
Officers are trying desperately hard to differentiate themselves from the other ranks. Though clad in denims like the ORs, they wear khaki shirt, collars and ties (purchased with their own money). At this stage, they had not been given the right to wear “pips” on their shoulders but wore thin black bars, (Platoon Commander one strip. Company Commander two). To differentiate further, some adopted the preposterous fashion of wearing Sam Browne Belts, with cross strap, over the denim blouse.
As a point of interest (and I never found out why), C Company (Mumbles) was one of the very few units in the whole of the United Kingdom to be issued with the 1914-18 Lee Enfield snub nose .303 Rifle. A magnificent weapon much favoured at Bisley (to this very day), and by all soldiers currently then in service. I never came across any other company, anywhere, who had been issued with this rifle- all the other units were issued with the ancient Canadian Ross. 300 rifle, of much earlier origin. From its very inception, the Mumbles Home Guard was special!
Note the pride with which weapons are exhibited. The Lewis Gun on the left and the Vickers MM Gun on the right. There were a few others in the armoury along with scores of 36 Mills Grenades. With our ten rounds of ammunition, we were ready for Hitler and his rampant Teutonic hordes.
Again look at those smiles!
Look into the faces of real Mumbles people bonded together as never before into a unique fellowship.
Try and recognise them. Remember them with love, affection and gratitude.
Here is the very heart of a Mumbles as it truly was.
Fred ALLEN Private. Chairman of social committee.
Jack ANDERSON Drill Sergeant. Ex- regular CSM Welsh Guards Trained a squad from C Coy which won the S Wales Area Drill Championship
Ralph ANDERSON Private. Ex-regular Coldstream Guards.(Discharged after being wounded at Dunkirk).
Mike ANDERSON Private. Ex-Constable, Swansea Police Force.
Gerald BALSDON Private. Delivery boy, Sanders Greengrocers.Later Royal Artillery. Became Carpet Departmental. Manager, David Evans, Swansea.
Dickie BALSDON Corporal i/c QM’s Store. Men’s Outfitter’s Shop in the Dunn’s (by Forte’s)..
Eddie BEYNON Private. Member of the family which operated the highly rated Plumbing and Electrics business in Newton Road.
Arthur BASSETT M/T. Sergeant. Owner of large Car Dealers & Garage Business, Swansea. .
Derek Charles BEVAN. Private Star Supply Stores, Newton Road. Killed RAF August 22nd 1942 . Aged 19.
Dudley BISHOP Sergeant, later Lieutenant. Rotherslade Road. WW1, Passchendale Veteran. Worked for R.T.& B.
Duncan BISHOP L/Cpl. Swansea Grammar Schoolboy . . Wounded twice, (once severely), in France after D Day, as an Infantry Subaltern in Royal Sussex Regt.
Tom BROWN Private. John Street. Village Postman. Son of Village Sweep.
Eddie BROWN Private. Sadly, no details,
? BURTONSHAW Sergeant, later Lieutenant. Solicitor? WW1 Veteran.
? BURGESS Lieutenant. Langland. Shipping? WW1 Veteran.
Bryn CRITCHETT Corporal. Overland Road. Insurance broker. Mumbles Cricket Club stalwart and socialite.
Bert CHOWN Lieutenant (later Captain). Overland Road. WW1 Veteran. Master Sniper. Possessed personally addressed telegram re. laying down arms for Armistice.
Warwick COWLING Private. The Parade, Southend. Upholsterer.
Chris CUMMINGS Corporal. Wallace’s Shoe Shop, Newton Road. WW1 Veteran
Edgar DAVIES Private. Building Trade.
Hubert (“Boop”) DAVIES Private. West Cross. Student in Junior Tech College, Swansea. Enlisted Royal Navy in 1942 for 22 years. Became Warrant Officer/Radar/ Missiles.
H DAVIES M.C. Major. Later Lt. Colonel, CO of Battalion. Moorside Road, West Cross. HM. Inspector of Schools. WW1 Veteran. Decorated WW1 hero.
Jack DICKENS Corporal. Overland Road. Village Postman WW1Veteran
Cliff DIXON Private. Mumbles Road opposite Tivoli. Driver for Clode’s Shipping Butchers.
? DYSON Lieutenant. Norton? OC No. 2 Platoon. WW1 Veteran.
Len EVANS Corporal. The Bob Bon Sweetshop. Local Scoutmaster. Great wag and wit.
Fred GILL Corporal. Norton. WW1 Veteran.
Gwyn GRACE Private. Village errand boy. Recent school leaver.
? GRIFFITHS Corporal. Lived over Maypole, Newton Road. Fine voice, entertained at Battalion socials. Later commissioned in Cadet Corps.
John Owen HARRIS Sergeant, later Lieutenant. Langland. Shipping Tycoon. Big personality with physique to match.
? HAWKINS Private. Plunch Lane, Limeslade.
Jim HAYES Lieutenant. Later Full Time Adjutant for Battalion . Stationed at Pant Gwyn, Sketty, with rank of Captain. Wool Shop, Newton Road, Mumbles. WW1 Veteran.
? HILLMAN Private. Plunch Lane, Limeslade.
Peter T.J. HOOPER Private. Gower Place. Articled Chartered Accountant (Ron Cross). Enlisted 1942 R. Corps of Signals. Served in NW Europe. Married Eira Moss, Pharmacist. Became highly rated Chartered Accountant.
? HOWARD Captain. C Company Admin Officer. Lived in village. Boer War and WW1 Veteran. Local Government Officer
Cyril JAMES Private. Dispatch Rider.
Bill (“Plum”) JEFFERS Corporal. Trainee engineer. Son of Mumbles Chief Coast Guard and lived in Coastguard Station, Westbourne Place
Albert JENKINS Corporal. Master Builder. Overland Road. WW1 Veteran
Cyril JENKINS L/Cpl. Lewis Gun Instructor. Albert Place. Builder . (brother of Albert). Called up 1943 for R. Engineers.
? JENNER Private. Popular Jobbing Gardener to the day he died. A staunch, lovable Christian.
Dan JONES Sgt (later Lieut). Park Street. Family renowned fish retailers and wholesailers.
Bob KIRBY Private. Langland. Member of renowned family business --“Rees and Kirby”.
Alec KOSTROMIN Private. Westbourne Place. Highly . esteemed Mumbles family. Brilliant technical engineer. Only one who could repair Archdeacon Williams’ Lanchester preselected gearbox. Post war, became senior technician in Haines’ Camera Shop.
Tommy (“Big Tommy”) LEWIS Private. John Street lad. Joined Welsh Guards in 1942. Active service in Europe. To the end of his days Tommy was a regular communicant at All Saints Church Oystermouth. A real gentle giant.
Grafton MAGGS Private. Gloucester Place. Grammar Schoolboy.(the ‘Private Pike’ of C Coy). 1943 Army. Parachute Regiment.
Frank MARTIN Private. Gower Place. Son of village Police Sergeant Volunteered 1942. (Aged 17) RWF. 8th Army, North Africa. Sicily landings. Anzio. Joined Foreign Legion 1943. Very colourful character to say the least!
Alan MILLICHIP Private. Articled Chartered Accountant (Ron Cross). Swansea Town AFC amateur player. Brother “Jacko”, killed in RAF aircrew. 1942. Alan immediately volunteered for bomber aircrew.
Fred. MITCHELL The Company Sergeany Major. Chapel Street Village Postman. Ex- RSM of Royal Welch Fusiliers. WW1 Veteran. A very fine man, ideal for this post. Loved his pint.
Bert MOORE Private. Victoria Avenue. 1st Mumbles Troop Scoutmaster . of the highest quality.
? MORIARTY Lieutenant, later Captain. Langland. Owner of de luxe. Ladies Fashion Shop in Walter Road, Swansea. . WW 1 Vet.
Eric NICHOLLS Private. Dock Cottage. Southend.
Walter O’NEILL Cpl, later Sgt. Newton Road, Radio and Electrics Shop. NCO i/c Signals section. WW1 Vet.
EricOWEN Private. Garage Owner, The Dunns. One of twins.
Bert PALMER Captain, later Major. Company Commander Upper West Cross. Estate Agent in Swansea. Succeeded Major Davies as OC C COY.
Stuart PALMER Private. Grammar Schoolboy. West Cross. Elder son of Major Palmer. Joined RN in 1942.
George(“Error”) PARSONS Private. Southend. Joined RN 1942, served on Destroyers. Post war member of Mumbles Lifeboat Crew.
Harold PEACHEY Private. Village boy. Cleaned boots with lubricating oil.
Clem PEACHEY Private. Village boy. Brother of Harold. Loved sweet tea.
Bill PHILLIPS Cpl. Norton boy. WW1 Veteran.
Billy (“Smiler” )PHILLIPS Private . Newton Road. Joined HM Forces 1942.
Dan (“Mooney”) PHILLIPS Sgt. Bishopston. English Scholar and Teacher in Dynevor Gramma School. WW1 Vet. A dour and sound man.
Bernhard PHILLIPS Private. Western Lane. Staunch Christadelphian.
George REES Sgt. Newton Road. Leading Mumbles Butcher. WW1 Vet.
Lew PHILLIPS Private. Gloucester Place. Married Lottie sister of HMS Repulse hero Bryn Balsdon
Pat REES Private. Mumbles Road, West Cross (now Nursing Home). Grammar Schoolboy. 1942 gained coveted place as Special Entry Cadet to Dartmouth Naval College.
Graham(?) RICHES Private. Grammar schoolboy. Langland. Enlisted 1943.
Gerald (Gerry) RICHARDS Private. Clyne Cottage, Blackpill. Errand boy for Cliff Rosser. Enlisted RN, 1942. Served on HMS Hesperus, alongside George Parsons.
Cliff ROSSER Private. Newton Road. Quality Butcher.
Thomas A.(“TAR”) ROGERS Private. Newton. Manager Taylor’s Grocery, Wind Street, Swansea. Self acclaimed lunatic.
Fred. SANGUIN Private. Southend. In charge of heating furnace in the Regent Cinema Parade Hall. WW1 Vet.
Greg SIMPSON Private. Langland Well known and highly respected businessman.
? SMALE Private. Middle of front row. In every picture he is always semi-recumbent.
Frank SMITH Corporal. Myrtle Terrace. Panel Beater. Dour lad.
Peter SMITH Private (later Sgt). Myrtle Terrace. Apprentice PanelBeater. Enlisted Army 1944. Crossed Rhine with 6th Airborne Division. Terrorist Campaign Palestine. Post war, - panel beater at Dave Scott’s Garage by Tivoli Cinema.
Dougie STAINTON. Private. Norton boy. Later Special Police Constable.
? STEPHENS. Sgt. Later Lieutenant. Castle Avenue. Senior partner in Merriman and Stephens Coal Merchants. WW1 Vet.
Fredk. TAPP MM. Weapon Training Sergeant. (Expert on Vickers.edium Machine Gun). West Cross. WW1 Machine Gun Corps and decorated for bravery in the field.
Ernie TAYLOR Private. Victoria Avenue. Inseparable friend of Cliff Dixon.
? THATCHER Lieutenant. Newton. Manager of Mumbles Labour Exchange. Head of famous swimming family. WW1 Vet.
Tom THOMAS Sgt.i/c Signals Section. Superseded by Sgt. O’Neil. WW1 Vet.
John (Ginger) THOMAS Private. Gower Place. Village errand boy. Later Memberof Fire Service. Brother of the loved “Twgger” Thomas.
Lindsey THOMAS Private. Grammar Schoolboy, West Cross. 1943 enlisted in Royal Tank Regiment.
Jack (“Tight”) TIMOTHY Private. Gloucester Place. Pupil at Swansea Junior Tech College. Enlisted RAF 1943. Aircrew. Bomber Command. His father was i/c Council Changing tents in Langland with thefamous Barney Davies for many years.
George (“Bull”) TURNBULL Private. Windsor Place. Ex-regular soldier in Hussars. Boer War and WW1 Vet. Incredible Morse code operator.
John VARLEY Corporal. Newton Road Pharmacists. Enlisted RAF 1942. Bomber Command pilot. Returned 1946 to take over highly rated family pharmacy.
Ben WALKER-JONES. Captain 2nd i/c of Company. Well known solicitor. Langland/Caswell. WW1 Vet.
Tom.WHITE Sergeant i/c Vivian Hall Guard Room/Armoury, Blackpill Major in the Salvation Army. Bluff, bland and breezy!
Albert WILLIAMS Private. Norton. Proprietor of the West Cross Garage.
Alun WILLIAMS Private. Swansea Grammar Schoolboy. Moorside Road, Enlisted in 1943.
Cecil WILLIAMS L/Cpl Dispatch Rider. Sea Scoutmaster. Father-in-law to the famous and hilarious “Buster” David.
Owen WILLIAMS Private. Swansea Grammar Schoolboy. Son of local Head Teacher. Kings Road. Enlisted Indian Army 1943. Discharged as Major.
No doubt, there are omissions for which, I offer my apologies.
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