21 thoughts on “Stockton Home Guard c1939 – 1945

  1. I agree with most of the comments on the Home Guard I was turned down by the navy board as I was a Constructional Plater they called it a reserved occupation , joined the L D V later named the Home Guard given a wooden rifle to train with issued with Denham uniform and a shot gun to Patrol the works one night a week two hours on guard four hours sleep twice a night , training every Sunday morning at Preston Park sometimes by a regular Sergeant Major no slacking with him. I learned to use the Blacker Bombard plus machine guns and how to dismantle them and put together again , during the days and nights doing eleven hour shifts I was helping to make bailey bridges for the Army Engineers and also the Mullberry Harbour a Floating Dock for the Royal Navy To Refuel the warships at sea . There was one or two older men in our units but most of them were under fifty , there were some good enjoyable times when on the Rifle ranges Etc, but was very hard going at times and an Experience I will never forget

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  2. I have been informed that my grandfather, General George Flounders was also stationed at Kiora Hall. Apparently he used to march the troops up to Thorpe in a circuit but not sure of his route of return.

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    • Barry forget the Dad’s army picture people have of the home guard they were a hard working tough dedicated bunch after all they were all volunteers. They worked at normal jobs and trained in between and trained hard. Some had even been called up at the beginning of the war then sent back because they were in essential jobs, sent back kicking and screaming in some cases they wanted to be in it, unhappily quite a few local lads never came back from Dunkirk.
      I saw them marching route marches up to Thorpe then along to Carlton and back down to Kiora, there were defensive boxes along all those roads the home guard would have defended when needed.
      Many were world war one veterans having seen trench warfare at its worst they were under no illusion as to what war meant yet still volunteered I lift my hat to all of them as they would have fought had they needed to.

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      • My father was evacuated from Dunkirk and kept back at home because he had an ‘essential’ job (welder). He joined the Home Guard. He was a gunner in the Royal Artillery so I believe he served at Kiora. Perhaps he is one of the men in the picture, but he died when I was young so my memory is vague.

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      • As with Bob Irwin’s father, mine was in France 14-18 serving as a driver in the RHA, then in the Home Guard as a gunner on the AA rockets based at/near ICI close to the River Tees.

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  3. Love the photo, the cap badge is that of the Green Howards, so he must have served with a Home Guard unit south of the tees ie: Thornaby, Yarm or Middlesbrough. The 19th Stockton Battalion was affiliated to the Durham Light Infantry.

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  4. I know that my dad Tom Richards manned guns at night in Norton. He ran a newsagents on Blue Hall Estate and sadly died, aged 60 in 1967. I would love further information on him.

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  5. I do realise that many of the things happening during the war have gone mainly because people did not talk about it after and are now, many of them long gone. Steve Small, Ernie Giles and other men I met when I started Browns Sheet Iron Works Prince Regent Street Stockton had been redirected, re-trained and were classed as Dilutees on around two thirds of a Tradesmans wage usually made up with piece work.
    Steve had spent his years from leaving school in the Parkfield foundry at thirteen pushing heavy barrows of sand up planks and tipping them into the moulding boxes. His health suffered from the smoke and muck so when he volunteered for the forces he was turned down. Redirected into steel fabrication he became one of the best tradesmen I ever knew and could develop with the very best of us Template Makers, Ernie came from Middlesbrough again unfit for the forces, there were people from the pit area’s of Durham some from Darlington and the rest of us local including Old Pa Forrester my Tutor for all things Boilermaking and a very hard man indeed he was well past retirement brought back out to work in war work as so many where.
    The war was a complete turn around for many people and the Government was supreme, you did as you were told, even in my time which was starting work a few weeks before Christmas 1944. I had to work two weekday half shifts until seven o clock at night plus Saturday was a normal working day and if asked which was most weekends I had to work Sundays, to most of the men Sunday was also a normal day. In my case add Night School, Home work and Old Pa setting me probelms to work out make up in cardboard and present to him in pristine condition and of course correct in the math and the making of the model or my ears suffered. On reaching 16 a couple of months later I had to work two half shifts until eight o clock and if you did not you were up infront of the board, we worked.
    As the war ended we had men who returned from ship repairing abroad, they had been seperated from familly most of the war years with no chance of getting home, we had Forces people being demobbed one of whom had gone to India in 1938 and did not get home until 1946, none of those men would talk about the trials and tribulations. We had a couple of war wounded men invalided out one had joined up done his training gone to Germany in the last days been wounded the first day and sent back home and out, three months another went right through from 1939 Africa Italy D-Day and wounded as they crossed into Germany sent out and expected to work.
    People had to do as they were told, go where they were sent, Tommy Wiley was directed from ICI Billingham to Clithero, many of the local girls on reaching 18 were sent to Ammunition Factories deep in the country, most were called up to work in factories taking the place of men and doing the same job. As I found although the war was coming to an end you had no control over your own life and those who kicked out at the system ended up in jail or as lads Borstal.
    For anyone interested the book Mony’s Highlanders tells the Story of the Highland Division from the beginning to the end and of the other great escape from France which we never hear about,
    OK I did say no more although Fred’s remarks made me think there may be an interest in what it was really like, it certainly was not a TV Comedy as shown, just deadly serious although we had plenty of laughs at the time, and the men sang as they worked.

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      • Not all would be interested Mary I am told I write engineers reports, all the details with no fluff.
        Since I started to write for the BBC 2000 to 2006 then on here until now I have probably written three books all in files in my cupboards some day they could be pulled together and would need a lot of work, at my age I may not last to read them.
        Thanks for the interest and may I be allowed to wish you and all who post plus of course the Team Merry Christmas and Very Happy New Year.

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    • Frank Mee, would you be able to contact me re your fabulous story, ‘Busy Wartime River Tees.’? I am related by marriage to Thomas Raymond Tighe. Thank you, A. Tighe

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      • Anne Tighe, I will ask Picture Stockton team permission to give my e-mail details to you then we can talk.
        I am intrigued as to how we are related Thomas Raymond Tighe being my Mothers Brother thus my Uncle.

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  6. Frank Mee’s last comments is one of the most remarkable I have read about WWII. A lot of people will have heard about the Bevin Boys, whereby 1 in 10 of the men being conscripted were sent down the mines, but I had never heard about other jobs.

    This explains why well into the sixties if you had changed your job during WWII you could get a special tax allowance… I had this explained to me when I started work in 1961 at Dorman Long.

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  7. Again I would like to stress there were many young men in the home guard, My friend Steve Small was in from being 18 to its closing down which was before the war ended.
    A brief history of that time was the enlargement of the TA in the 1930’s, many local men joined up in preparation for the coming war. Then in the 9th month of 1939 it happened and they were called up en-masse. Every TA Centre in the area was packed out with any spare fields around becoming camps for the over flow. The top of Bradbury Road and Fulford Farm Norton became a camp with trenches dug which unearthed bones from a more ancient war, I know that because we were never away and ate the sausage stew and duff with them, many called up were Fathers missing their own kids. Suddenly they went off to France and one of the coldest winters for many years, the Phoney war but in 1940 it all went haywire, we all know about Dunkurque but few know nearly 200,000 more of the forces escaped from channel ports and many boats lost in the process, the 51 Highland Div were still fighting when the French gave in and some did escape from France.
    The upshot was industry found themselves short of men a lot of them expert craftsmen so the Government sent many back home for war work, they were redirected and against the will of many of them. Some of those men were even sent to Gibraltar Malta and South Africa on ship repair, no choice in the matter.
    The men sent back were fit. Some others because of the shortage of work in their young days and malnutrition were unfit for the forces. You had stupid people posting white feathers through letterboxes at dead of night, the result was many of those lads joined the LDV as it was called, they did lots of training and manned the guns playing a large part in the defence of Teesside during our own two years of air attack, at least they could be seen in uniform which stopped some of the snide remarks.
    Few people had any choice in what they did and all expected to do some kind of defence work as well as the day job, Police Firemen Wardens Fire watchers and ambulance teams plus special search and rescue to help with Bomb Damage.
    My Mother a dress maker became an electrician at Goosepool, My Father a Haulage contractor with an “A” licence, not many of those around at the time had to move loads for the government again no choice.
    My main point is trying to get across the mix of very young and older men from another war still fresh in the collective memory led to a well practiced company of men who apart from the dangerous Blacker Bombard Rockets and some Canadian Ross Rifles were pretty well equipt.
    Forget Dad’s army they were fighting men. Last word I promise.

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  8. Interesting photo. As Frank Mee suggests most of the men would have been First World War veterans and known one end of Lee Enfield from the other.

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  9. Looking at this picture you will now know why I got a bit hot under the collar when the discussion about the defence of the area came up, (the tank traps at Portrack).
    These are young fit men who would be working in industry during the day and on the gun sites at night, most would be unable to join the services because they were in retained jobs and some could well have been in the forces and sent back home again as they were needed in shipbuilding and the steel industry, many hundreds were in the early days of the war.
    Some of the older ones would have fought as very young men in the first world war or just after and would help train the youngsters.
    Dads Army has a lot to answer for and the picture of old decrepid men was incorrect, they would have fought with the best of them and knowing the way people were thinking at that time very hard indeed, probably helped by my Mother with her ever ready pitch fork.

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    • Frank mee,
      Could you give me some advice please. I think my grandfather was a home guard or warden in the Norton area. All I have is a name and roughly his age and where he lived, with such little information would you be able to tell me how I would go about starting to find out what he actually did. I recall a vague story that bombs hit houses in Norton and he had to help to try to get people out. I read your article for the BBC and found the best information yet about how Norton was so affected by the bombing.

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  10. I’m looking for any pictures of a man named Albert Phillips, he’d have been stationed at Kiora Hall. He had a cleft lip that the army had fixed for him as he had been born with it.

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