Our Century

Dad's Army take Brum!

Wolverhampton's own Dads Army played a leading part in helping to keep Hitler on the run when it joined other Midlands Home Guard units in a successful mock attack on Birmingham's south-west defences in March during a special exercise designed to test the city's ability to keep the enemy at bay.

Birmingham Home Guard
How the Express & Star reported the South Staffordshire Home Guard's success in exercises around Birmingham.

Between 10,000 and 12,000 men took part in what was described as the most ambitious exercise ever attempted in the Midlands.

The main thrust of the attack was against a golf course and a police station.

Wolverhampton Home Guard moved "like ghosts" through the night equipped with buses and trucks.

Umpires at the scene commented that they had never before seen such well organised transport plans and were impressed by the speeds of the attacks.

It was also the first time that wireless communications had been used in a big scale exercise involving the South Staffordshire Home Guard.

Women of Villiers Engineering
It's 1943 and wartime hardships are put aside for a moment as the women of Villiers Engineering in Wolverhampton pose for the camera. Bery Davies of Upper Gornal (third left, back row) was just 19 and assembled detonators for the war effort.

Strange affair of girl with mousey hair: Away from the war a Stourbridge inquest was confronted with gruesome murder mystery in a wood bearing all the trademarks of a Sherlock Holmes thriller.

The jury was told of how the skeleton of a woman with part of her dress stuffed in the mouth was found in a hollow tree at Hagley Woods.

The skeleton was discovered by two boys out bird-nesting.

It was reconstructed from bones found in and around the tree and was said to have been that of a woman aged about 35 with mousey hair.

She was said to have died from asphyxia. the jury returned a verdict of murder by some person or persons unknown.

Sailor's eye witness battle report: A Wolverhampton sailor sent home a thrilling account of the navy's action in January against French warships full of Germans which resisted the allies in North Africa.

Leading radio mechanic Terence Leighton Squires, from Fordhouses, described the action in a letter as "sharp but bloody while it lasted."

He wrote: "The ships did not put up much of a fight, and we just sailed in and let em have it. He wrote that the target ships were full of ammunition, fuel or "Huns".

He described how cordite fumes pervaded his ship, adding that after the action, there was a heavy, sweet smell everywhere - "just like a newly-dug grave covered with wreaths."

And eight members of one Wolverhampton family had all joined up to to play their part in the fight against Hitler, the Express & Star reported.

They were five sons, two son-in-laws, and an uncle.

Three of them were in the army, one in the navy and one in the Home Guard. The son-in-laws were in the army.

Women can wear the trousers . . . On the fashion front the Express & Star women's column was advising in January on how girls could make a skirt from a pair of slacks in view of shortages through the war.

The column suggests unpicking all the seams and recutting the material using a four piece skirt pattern.

A pocket would lend added smartness to the garment, the column adds.

Malcolm Davis
Because of my illness I not only lost everything but was declared bankrupt.