5th Battalion, Swindon

Wiltshire Home Guard

Living History Group

5TH BATTALION, SWINDON

Date Raised

16 May 1940

Commanding Officer

Col. B.L. Birley, D.S.O. (12 Mar. 1943, ill health resigned);

Lt.-Col. A.E. Beswick

Approximate Strength

over 2,000 (April 1943)

Companies

9 (10 before formation of 13th Bn.)

Salute at Stand Down Parade Taken by

Maj.-Gen. Laurie, C.B., C.B.E.

COMPANIES

 

 

Battalion H.Q.

C: South-Eastern

G: Electricity Power Station

H.Q. Company

D: Post Office Company

H: Gas Works

A: Western

E: Garrard's Factory

J: [ ]

B: South-Western

(F: Great Western Railway)

 

Battalion H.Q.

Commander: Lt.-Col. Birley, D.S.O.; 12 Mar. 1943 Lt.-Col. A.E. Beswick

Strength [ ]

Headquaters: Civic Offices; 1943 45 Regent Street

SECTIONS - Strength & Commander/s

Section strength is unknown, as is the name of the Press Officer. If you are able to assist please contact us

Signals

 

Lt. W. Wheeler

Intelligence

 

Lt. R.J. Naish

Transport

 

Lt. C.H. How

Ammunition

 

Lt. H. Williams

Press Office

 

[ ]

Medical Office

 

Maj. O.B. Pratt, M.B.

Liaison Office

 

Capt. D.H. Maclean

Military Band

 

Bandmaster Wood

OFFICERS

Lt.-Col. Birley, D.S.O.

Lt. C.H. How

 

Lt.-Col. A.E. Beswick

Lt. H. Williams

 

Maj. J.B.L. Thompson

Bandmaster Wood

 

Maj. O.B. Pratt, M.B.

[ ] Rev. L.A. Erett

 

Capt. D.H. Maclean

[ ] L.F. Cheyney

 

Lt. W. Wheeler

[ ] M. Cuss

 

Lt. R.J. Naish

 

 

PAID CIVILIAN STAFF

Miss Macphearson

Mrs. Honeyman

 

Mrs. Turner

 

 

AWARDS

O.B.E.

Lt.-Col. A.E. Beswick

H.Q. Company

Commander: S. Hirst; Capt. R.C. Budding

Strength [ ]

Headquarters: The Clarence Street Schools

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for H.Q. Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Capt. R.C. Budding

[ ] S. Hirst

A COMPANY (Western)

Commander: Maj. W.E. Russell, M.C.

Strength [ ]

Headquarters: The County Ground Hotel & Queenstown School; The Hutments, Dudmore Road

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for A Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Maj. W.H. Russell, M.C.

B COMPANY (South Western)

Commander: Dr. C.E. Jones; Maj. W.E.G. Ireland

Strength [ ]

Headquarters: Commonweal School

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for B Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Maj. W.E.G. Ireland

[ ] Dr. C.E. Jones

C COMPANY (South Eastern)

Commander: Maj. J.C. Gilbert

Strength [ ]

Headquarters: The Lethbridge Road Schools; Gipsy Lane

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for C Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Maj. J.C. Gilbert

D COMPANY (Post Office Company)

Commander: T. Fenner; Maj. E. Blewitt

Strength [ ]

Headquarters: The Post Office

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for D Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Maj. E. Blewitt

[ ] T. Fenner

Memories of Dudley Hancock WRJ0 74/12, 30 Aug. 1940 to 31 Dec. 1945 - courtesy of Kit Hancock:

 

"On a warm summers evening in July Private Jack Haslam and I were on guard duty outside the Post Office Exchange. We had just finished our 2 hour guard duty and we went into the exchange to discharge the unspent clips from our rifles. Jack took his clip out and raised the barrel of his rifle and all of a sudden there was a loud bang and a whole in the ceiling!!"

 

"We use to do our shooting practice in the GPO pole yard on a Monday evening. It was here that we had made up targets to shoot at. That was until our SGT discovered a pond at the very bottom which had a good population of wild ducks and geese and our shooting practice subsequently changed from a Monday to a Friday!!"

 

"Whilst on Manoeuvres in Timberscombe with many other Home Guard units from across the South West we went on a Training exercise which involved camping over night. Myself and PVT Syril Hodgekins pitched our tent at the top of the field and went off to sleep. We woke up the next morning and the tent was at the top of the field and we were down at the bottom!!"

 

"The whole 5th Wiltshire battalion were assembled at the Gas Works to do a parade down the high street. We had been marching for about half a mile when the leading platoons Major shouted halt. We had marched down the wrong road and we had to back the whole parade up back to the start point!!"

E COMPANY (Garrard's Factory)

Commander: H.V. Slade; Maj. Parrett

Strength [ ]

Headquarters: Garrard's Engineering Works

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for E Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Maj. Parrett

[ ] H.V. Slade

F COMPANY (Great Western Railway) - 1 May 1943, transferred out to form nucleus of new 13 Bn.

Commander: Maj. S. Dyer

Strength 17 officers & 623 other ranks (1 May 1943)

Headquarters: Great Western Railway Works

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for F Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Maj. S. Dyer

Lt. C.W. Leader

G COMPANY (Electricity Power Station)

Commander: Maj. A.E. Beswick; 12 Mar. 1943 Maj. P.S. Richards, M.B.E.

Strength [ ]

Headquarters: Rodbourne Cheney Schools

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for G Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Maj. A.E. Beswick

[ ] Mr. Mazzolini

Maj. P.S. Richards, M.B.E.

[ ] Mr. Smith

[ ] Mr. D. Sims

[ ] Mr Warminger

[ ] Mr. F. Pryor

 

H COMPANY (Gas Works) (assumption based on Works Depot)

Commander: C.H. Chester; Maj. W.N. Knight

Strength [ ]

Headquarters: Canteen Buildings - Gorse Hill Gas Works and Gorse Hill Schools; Works Depot

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for H Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Maj. W.N. Knight

[ ] C.H. Chester

J COMPANY (unknown)

Commander: Maj. W.H. Haydon

Strength [ ]

Headquarters: Drill Hall, Swindon

PLATOONS - Strength & Commanders

We do not have any platoon information for J Coy. If you have information relating to platoons, strength, commanders and members please contact us

OFFICERS

Maj. W.H. Haydon

 

IMAGES

If you recognise anyone in these images, we'd love to hear from you. Also, if Pl. not shown, do you know which Pl.?

Swindon Home Guard - Are you able to assist with which Company /Platoon /Names?

Source: www.flick.com - Stephen Lewins

G Coy., Rodbourne Cheney Officers

Back L-R: Mr. D. Sims, Mr. F. Pryor, Mr. Mazzolini, ?, ?

Front L-R: Mr. Smith, Mr. P. Richards, Mr. Warminger

Source: www.swindonviewpoint.com

J Coy., Drill Hall

Source: www.swindonviewpoint.com

WEAPONS

Rifles loaned from Marlborough College;

Molotov bombs;

American Lewis guns;

 

By 1 Nov. 1944, 3,000 weapons:

Rifles;

Sten guns;

Grenades;

Northover Projectors;

Spigot mortars;

Smith guns;

2-pounder anti-tank guns

ANECDOTE (page 77)

"In the 'wee sma' hours the guard at the approach in the Old Town collected a man very intoxicated and quite incapable. While a member of the guard was endeavouring to find ways and means of getting the man to his home, the incapable one fell asleep on the side of the road, face downwards, arms spread outwards. A car containing an apoplectic gentleman was stopped who produced his identity card after considerable pressure all the time passing jeering remarks about the Local Defence Volunteers. On being informed that the guard's rifle was loaded he said, 'In any case you'd be too windy to fire the damn thing.' The guard, pointing to the prone one said, 'What about him?' The car drove off at a furious speed while the occupant muttered, 'It's rank murder.'"

SOURCES:

Data: Company and Platoon data derived from The History of the Wiltshire Home Guard 1940 - 1944, Major E.A. Mackay, T.D., D.L., J.P., published 1946

Swindon Home Guard image: www.flickr.com - Stephen Lewins

Rodbourne Cheney Officers, G Company image: www.swindonviewpoint.com

J Company, Drill Hall images: www.swindonviewpoint.com

 

Please note that all images on this website are low resolultion and not suitable for printing.

Unless stated otherwise, images are copyright to the Wiltshire Home Guard living history group and the photographer.

Images donated to the Group for use on the website are copyright to the donor.

If you would like to use any image, please send a request to info@wiltshirehomeguard.co.uk