- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Sydney Brooks
- Location of story:
- Uttoxeter, Staffs
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 10 January 2006
This is a story told me by my father, Sydney Brooks (1917-92). He was unfit for military service but was called up into a reserved occupation, and joined the Home Guard. He was a member of the North Staffs regiment and was stationed at Uttoxeter.
Not everyone was impressed by tales of the brave Russian resistance to the German invasion. It depended who was telling the tale. Most people believed that Stalin was the lesser of two evils and had to be helped, but there was one man in particular in the Home Guard who would never stop talking about the virtues of Communism and the need to help our brethren in the Soviet Union. He always seemed to be collecting money for that purpose, too, and was universally reviled and nicknamed Molotov, but did not seem to be put off by his ostracism amongst the other members of the Home Guard.
One day on an exercise he slipped off a hill path and clung on over a sheer drop by his fingers, just like they do in the movies. “Help me, help me!”, he cried, terrified lest he lose his grip and plunge to oblivion. The other soldiers knew something he did not: he was hanging above the safety of a wide ledge that was not more than inches below his dangling feet, so they did nothing and watched him beg.
The corporal arrived and ordered that he be helped up. The soldiers obeyed, of course, and enjoyed pointing out how unnecessary his panic had been. My father said that if there had been a real abyss beneath Molotov’s feet there would have been a rush to stamp on his fingers. I was never sure whether he was joking or not.
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