Thursday 13 June 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past - Grandad William S Hutton in the Home Guard

During our recent visit to the North East my mum and I called around to see her cousin (CnS) and her husband (JS) who live in North Shields.  We spent a lovely couple of hours sharing stories about our children and grandchildren (not my grandchildren - not yet!). 

I had been in touch with their daughter (ClS) a few years ago concerning our family history, but then the correspondence had faded away.  However as a result of our visit to her parents she got in touch with me again and now we are friends on Facebook - she's even got her dad to join up too!  It's a much more casual way of staying in touch than letters or emails, but I do recommend it for keeping up with family news.

Yesterday ClS posted a selection of family pictures - amongst some of her mum and mine as small children was this wonderful picture of my grandfather in the Home Guard.

Nine men in military uniform, five standing, four seated in front, all on the elderly side except my grandad.
11th Durham Home Guard (probably)

My grandad, William Satchell Hutton (b.1905) is seated far left.  He will be between 34 and 39 years old (1940-44) and appears to be somewhat younger than the other men.  He was a colliery manager at Whitworth Park colliery at this time and the family lived at The Farm, Page Bank.  I suppose it was his job that prevented him from being called up.  Conscription in the Second World War covered every man between 18 and 51 years of age as well as unmarried women between 20 and 30 years of age, but there were a collection of reserved occupations including mining.

I posted about finding my grandad's Home Guard badges and a much used code sheet in a previous post.  I have had a few problems finding his Home Guard records; Forces War Records advertise that they have some Home Guard records - beware, they are just transcriptions of a basic index entry - I had a bit of trouble with the site and wrote a blog post about that.  The National Archives announced last year that they had released a pilot of Home Guard records, the ones from Durham, which was great for me.  Unfortunately when I went on the records for both my grandad and his best friend George Edgar (who my mum remembers well) were not available.  I did send them an email asking why this was the case, but I received no reply.  It wasn't until early May this year that I found they had updated the records and now my grandad's record was online.  I think he may have been missed off the first upload as he was an officer and their records were kept separately.  I paid £3.36 for six images which I thought was a bargain.

Foolscap form, typed and completed in various colours of ink.  More details below.
Form for Enrolment in the Local Defence Volunteers (from TNA)
This page gives my grandad's name, date of birth (10 December 1905), the nationality of his parents (both British - checking he wasn't a spy maybe?) and his next of kin, my grandma Doris Hutton, living at The Farm, Page Bank, Spennymoor.  William's address has been corrected in red ink and now reads 61 Clyde Terrace, Spennymoor - that's where they moved to in 1946 according to my mum who would have been about 7 years old by then.

There's a note of his National Registration number - FGRY 176-1 at the top also in red ink and a blue pencil note that he was the commander of No3 Platoon and was a Lieutenant.  The form is signed and dated by my grandad on 23 July 1940 - seven months earlier than the date given by Forces War Records for the start of his service.  This is explained on the next page - his promotion to Lieutenant dates from 1 February 1941, which tallies with the info on Forces War Records exactly.  Ah, ha - they only have access to partial records then.

He serves for five years and 163 days, being discharged on 31 December 1945 on the disbandment of the Home Guard.  Oddly in his claim for the Defence medal, which the next few pages document, he gives his date of discharge as 31 December 1944.  According to Wikipedia the Home Guard were "stood down" on 4 December 1944 and then officially disbanded on 31 December 1945. 

Part of William S Hutton's claim for the Defence Medal (from TNA)

The page above, dated 19 June 1946, restates William's National Registration number, rank and service details in the 11th Battalion of the Durham Home Guard and is countersigned by a Major Wallace (the signature is one of those that peters out at the end so I'm not 100% about the name) the Secretary of the Territorial Army and Air Force Association of the County of Durham on the 18 Jul 1946. 

I guess my uncle has his father's medal - I've not seen it but here's a picture from the web of what my grandad would have received.
Defence Medal (from Clarke Family History)

My mum tells the story of how grandad 'blew up' his friend George Edgar during a practice session.  I hope there are more Home Guard records to come - I would like to know more about that!

1 comment:

BarnsleyHistorian said...

There are some more records about the 11th battalion of the Durham Home Guard on the National Archives website - but they are closed until 2046. I will probably not be around then ... note to grandchildren - look to see if it says anything about your 2x great grandfather.