Worcestershire VTC The WW1 Home Guard
The Home Front Legacy 1914-18 Project (aka 'Son of the Defence of Britain' project) aimed to make a full record, both for a national database (to be incorporated into the Archaeological Data Service during 2020) and for local Historic Environment Records, of the physical remains of the First World War in Britain. This is of great historic importance and will also be used to inform planning decisions and protect this legacy for the future. The project was organised by the Council for British Archaology and Historic England. Worcestershire is fortunate in that a good start was been made through the local continuance of the WW2 Defence of Britain Project as the Defence of Worcestershire Project - which has already recorded many WW1 sites. Prospective researchers are advised to consult the Worcestershire Historic Environment Record to avoid duplication and to improve on the current record.
Sadly the Home Front Legacy Project project information contained no specific mention of the role or activities of the VTC but this is not to say that physical remains of their activity do not exist. Often their activity is masked within features that have better known attributes. The possible VTC connection is something for researchers to consider for when compiling records for the project. Examples include:-
An important memorial of WW1 activity across the country. The VTC commonly used these for their weekly drill sessions. Of particular importance were the miniature rifle ranges that were an integral part of most Drill Halls. In the early years of the war there was often a problem as to who was responsible for paying the weekly rental fees! From 1916 use of the TA Drill Halls by the Volunteer Force became an officially-recognised, and funded, activity.
There is increasing evidence for the digging of practice trenches within the UK, ready for troops to practice on before they went to the Western Front. Some of these were dug by the VTC. These include trenches dug behind the Pump House in Worcester.
Once the VTC managed to purchase .303 rifles they applied to use local military rifle ranges. In Worcestershire they used the 1000 yard range at Tiddesley Wood, Pershore.
Anti-Aircraft Gun emplacements
Some anti-aircraft gun and searchlight sites ended up being manned by the Volunteer Force (in clear parallel with the role of the Home Guard in the Second World War). Local TA records or family stories might identify such sites, although this role was considered secret at the time. The AA site ar Lodge Hill, Selly Oak was certainly partly-manned by men of the 3rd Bn, Worcestershire Volunteer Regiment from 1916-18 and it is possible that there were similar emplacements on the Lickey Hills.
Many VTCs took on guard duties at local munitions factories. As early As May 1915, Dudley VTC were mounting guard on the National Projectile Factory on Hall Street (former Bean Car Works, where the local VTC also had its HQ) and the Mills Grenade factory just outside the town on the New Rowley Road.
© Copyright Malcolm Atkin 2015. Contents not to be copied or otherwise reproduced without permission.