Stockton Railway Sheds Home Guard

In the Second World War many places of work had their own detachment of the Home Guard and Stockton Railway Sheds were one of them. My grandfather Thomas Wybert Birtle spent most of his working life at the Stockton Sheds and he was made sergeant for their section. He’d served in the Great War finishing up at as a sergeant in the HLI (Highland Light Infantry) so they were making good use of his experience.

During the war years he was permanent nights running foreman which from all accounts was a demanding role.

Photograph and details courtesy of Martin Birtle.

6 thoughts on “Stockton Railway Sheds Home Guard

  1. Without the LDV and Home Guard we would have been in an almighty mess and caught with our pants down. The government of this country knew full well the strong possibility of war but to a lot of people 3rd September 1939 altered their lives.
    My dear Father fought in two world wars for this country as a volunteer. We have thrown away the type of life my age group are used to – I am now 90 years of age. However, I have not forgotten the BEF that were sent abroad from the Drill Hall the Erimus Middlesbrough. My Dad was too old for overseas duties but did his bit at Grangetown, Sunderland on the HAA side based there. If the public think back Sunderland was pretty well closed down for a week while they removed a bomb or landmine which had laid there since it was dropped, no doubt to remove the gun site which was in line for the German bombers. We owe these people a huge debt of gratitude for the sacrifices which they made. I was one of the lucky ones – my Dad came back.
    J. Norman Kidd


  2. My father was a fitter and turner in ICI, during the war. He was in his late forties when war was declared, and not called up. He joined the Home Guard instead. He lived in Norton at the time, and I think he helped at the anti aircraft gun in Kiora. I was only fifteen years old, when he died, so my memories are hazy. I do remember during the 1950’s, seeing his helmet, gas mask and stirrup pump hanging in our garage, in Roseberry Road, Billingham. I wish now, that I had been more inquisitive, when he was alive. I’m not sure what he would of thought of Dad’s Army, but my mother said he took his Home Guard position seriously.


  3. Frank I disagree I think Dads Army did great good for the home guard
    It told us how we were totally unprepared for what was about to follow but how people just did their bit & carried on until we were better trained & organised.
    But most importantly It showed how we had the ability to laugh at ourselves as were faced a terrible future, a British trait sadly lost by a lot of people in this modern age.


    • Keith, I cannot disagree with what you say, my point being the people in this modern age think what they see on TV is nothing but the truth. Everything we did in the War is open to interpretation by young pundits who all think they know better than those of us here.
      If you believe what you see we never managed to do anything right and when we did win anything it is put down to WW1 tactics of pile in men and material no matter the losses or total incompetence managing to win through.
      Montgomery, Churchill, Wingate are all shown on TV as tyrants or slow thinking people by producers trying to stir things up.
      The LDV then the Home Guard made the best of what they had and at times it may well have looked a bit Dad’s Army. I saw those men many WW! soldiers who had seen action, as a Boy Scout runner when they were training with regular troops they held their own.
      We did have some laughs but then it was in our genes to laugh at calamity, these days it is a calamity if they cannot get a signal on their phones. We always got a line in the big red box, put two pennies in and press button B.
      We all have our opinions.


  4. My dad worked at ICI Billingham Oil Works. He tried joining the RAF when war broke out but, they said he had flat feet and wouldn’t be able to march. You can imagine what he thought of that being that he wanted to join the RAF. He went to work for Fairy Aircraft in Wales but was called back to ICI he was a Fitter. He told me about the Home Guard which, he joined. He said at the beginning they trained with broom sticks as there was only one rifle for the whole platoon. One Sunday they were to disguise themselves and hide on a hill outside Wolviston as a General was going to drive by to see the results. They waited for two hours without him showing so, they went into Wolviston to the Pub. While away the General drove by and was most impressed by their camouflage for as he said, “I can’t see a single one of them”.
    Very Dads Army.


  5. Dads Army programmes on TV did not do any favours for those very brave men who worked by day or night then donned uniform and put in hours of training.
    We saw the first of them in their own clothes with an LDV armband, the local defence volunteers with an assortment of weapons, shotguns, pick axe handles and even slings. Then they got the odd rifle mainly WW1 L.E mk2 that only held five rounds the odd Canadian Ross Rifle based on the German Mauser. Finally they got uniforms and L.E. rifles that held ten rounds, we saw by the medal ribbons many had seen lots of service.
    They manned the Rocket Launchers at Portrack and some of the guns at Kiora, they guarded their own factories when invasion was eminent and some were killed in the line of action.
    They were there when we needed them and we did not see anything funny about them in a time our parents feared the worst. As with all the Volunteers AFS, ARP’s, Fire Watchers, Ambulance crews and Special Constables, a true Citizens army determined the Germans would not win.
    Wonderful people.


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