- Contributed by
- thomas bibby
- Location of story:
- Ince home Guard
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 11 July 2004
My name is Mr. Thomas Bibby and I am 82 years of age. I was born in the 24/12/1921.
In 1937 I started my first job down a coal mine at the age of sixteen the name was Chisnal Hall colliery at Coppull, near Chroley, Lancashire. I lived in Wigan at the time and pediecycled the sixteen mile round trip to the colliery and my home.
In 1940 at the age of nineteen I transferred to another colliery named Ince Moss colliery near to Wigan. The round trip to the colliery was eight miles during which time I used to walk it there and back or pedicycle it there and back. I used to be on underground afternoon shift and was one of the team on a long wall coal face. The cause of roof falls, machinery breakdowns we used to work on until the early hours of the following morning. At that time of the year German bombers used to fly over head on their bombing missions to Greater Liverpool and Greater Manchester sometimes during these missions the German planes where met by our fighter planes. In order to escape they used to jettison their bombs to make there plane lighter and to escape more quicker.
At the end of our early morning shift we used to walk back to the pit bottom where the cage signal operator signalled the cage to go in and ascend the shaft, when we arrived at the shaft bottom the signal man told us to extinguish our lamps, which we did so and then walked into the cage, which on a signal took us to the surface. On arriving at the surface we walked out of the cage onto the bit brow and looking up the night sky was as black as ink, and walking from the pit shaft to the lamp room we could hear planes overhead by the noise of the engines we knew they to be German planes, after handing in our lamps a bunch of us walked along the dirt covered road from the colliery there was a locomotive shed and also at one side of the dirty track was a high wall we could not see over it. As we walked along smoking and talking one of the lads shouted “Dive down, they have just dropped a bomb!”, we could hear a whistling sound, as we lay on the ground we were waiting for this bomb to drop and explode, after a couple of minutes nothing happened so we got to our feet, on closer observation we looked towards this high wall and could see a plume of white smoke or steam in the air, this bomb scare turned out to be a shunting engine behind the wall blowing off steam. So much for that.
I would like to relate another incident when I was in the colliery home guard, one night during the Winter months a party of us was sent out to guard railway bridges, it was feared that German Para-shooters were about to land near to the railway, I was teamed up with the colliery managers’ son, Cyril Davies. Cyril and I stood guard on a railway over bridge, because it was cold and windy Cyril and I crouched down near the sides of the bridge, The idea was that we would be relived in two hours time. After awhile I said to Cyril “Cyril” I said “I think we should have been relived by now” which he replied “I think your are right.” I then asked him if he would stay where he was while I went to the next bridge up the line to see what was happening, he agreed for me to do so, we were wearing gas capes at the time, as I stood onto the track the wind caught hold of my gas cape from behind and blow it up into the air like a sail, the force of the wind then propelled me along the track to the next bridge, on nearing the bridge I home guard private leaped onto the track and challenged me he had his sten gun pointing at me with live ammunition in it. I was also armed with a sten gun with live ammunition, I shouted back to him as hard as I could, to which he shouted back “One step nearer and I will shoot you!” I then shouted back “You do and I will shoot you!”.
Anyway he allowed me to walk on towards him when I arrived at the bridge I noticed to my horror they had jus relived the holding of the bridge and they had forgotten about me and Cyril.
Needless to say Cyril and I weren’t happy about this incident.
Another incident I was caught up in while being in the home guard was a platoon of us were sent to the Abram Maypole colliery, to an adjoining farmers field to take part in manoeuvres against another platoon of home guard coming from Golboren colliery. The owner of the field was so high rate at our presence that he turned his prised bull out on us, causing us to evacuate the field as quickly as possible.
There was also another incident when I was in the home guard that a regular army major visited us and asked everybody did they want to take part in a special defence unit, with the exception of myself some of them volunteered, it meant that they would receive extra pay for so doing, on their first exercise they were led to a canal where they had to jump in and waded across to the other side wearing their full equipment.
As is natural they weren’t to pleased about this but by then it was to late because they had volunteered to be in this special unit.
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