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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Home Guard in Thurrock

by F_Bushell

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Contributed by 
F_Bushell
People in story: 
Frederick Bushell
Location of story: 
Tilbury, Thurrock
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A8856408
Contributed on: 
26 January 2006

There was a well known local character that was known as ‘old soldier Charlie’. He’d been in the First World War and was shell shocked. During WW2 they gave him loads of youngsters to train. He took them to the Wharf Hotel and he taught them how to fire guns with an old broomstick!! He used to walk up and down Grays High Street shell shocked.

One day I was in the Ritz Cinema in Grays when a landmine dropped in the pits behind it. There was a load of dust and the windows were blown in. Then when we came out a load of soldiers were walking by the stop any looting.

I was in the Home Guard — Essex and sometimes we were based in Tilbury Dock. I was guarding lock gates in the Docks when I was 17 and a half. All the officers in the home guard were shopkeepers — but there was no reason for this! Grover was one of them and he had a sweet shop in Tilbury in the Civic Square. We went to Tilbury Fort for live round practice. Grover used to fire live rounds over our heads to get us used to it!! He was supposed to use a Bren gun because they are accurate but he used a Tommy gun which is not — this was a bit hair raising!

I was called up into the Navy in 1943 when I was 18. I did some training at Harwich but was classed medically unfit and discharged.

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