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15 October 2014
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A member of the Chester Home Guard

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People in story: 
Thomas Jolly, Colonel Saxon, Mr Anfield
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Civilian Force
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31 January 2006

I’m Thomas Jolly, and I arrived on the 5th July 1905, and I’m still here! That makes me over 100! Good Lord, fancy being over 100.
During the war, I was working in the coal industry. I had what was regarded as quite an important job. I was manager of coal distribution, with control over dozens of coal merchants, seeing that people got their rations, and keeping down complaints, all that sort of thing. That was in Chester. I spent the whole war in Chester. That was my day job, but I was in the Home Guard too. We put on our uniforms in the evening, went and perhaps did twelve hours duty overnight. We would have a week of night duties.
The Home Guard would meet at the Drill Hall in Chester. That’s where our commander was. His name was Colonel Saxon. There were quite a lot of us, and we made quite an impression when we were on the march, joining the regular troops perhaps, on some parade, and there’d be our section, The Home Guard. Mr Anfield led our section, he was a lieutenant, then Captain. He was a neighbour of mine. He lived at the bottom of Abbotts Park, and I lived at the top end. Saxby was the name of our house. It’s a village in the East of England. It didn’t have a name when we first bought it, but my wife and I liked the name.
A German plane came down on the Sealand Road, and lots of locals turned up, and the local Home Guard, and the local military as well, you know, the real soldiers. That happened only a few hundred yards from the Welsh border. Shot down. The crew- I mean the German crew- were able to get out. Two of them spoke English, I think. There were about four of them. I don’t know what happened to them, it’s such a long time ago. They were taken by the military, but the Home Guard were there too.
(Were there other planes shot down round Chester?) Well, there were other planes shot down in parts of Cheshire, but we were only involved if it was local to the city of Chester. I don’t remember a great deal. Not much happened, I don’t think. In fact, it’s because we, the Home Guard, were there, that things didn’t happen. If there hadn’t have been the Home Guard, there’d have been bomb explosions every night. If anyone in the evening was going along with a suspicious parcel, we’d ask them to stop. There’d be me, and the sergeant, maybe about four or five of us, and we’d ask ‘What’s in the parcel?’ Because they were always afraid of bombings, you know, bombing a shop doorway. And especially with the Rows in Chester, with so much timber in them. There’s no other place in the world that’s built the same. And we had to patrol the rows too, and the walls. We had to keep a close eye on the Rows, we didn’t want any fires breaking out. A lot of that stuff is actually irreplaceable, and it goes back to the 10th century, some of it, which is a long time ago.

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