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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Home Guard

by sezbert

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Jack Millington
Location of story: 
Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
14 August 2005

Jack Millington was my Grandad. Although he started off his adult working life down the pit, by the time he had met and married my grandma, he was a 'muler' in one of the local cotton mills. He was 28 when the war broke out, but because his spinning mules were making materials needed for the war, he was not conscipted into the armed forces. So he joined the home guard. He used to delight in telling me about how close to reality the comedy series 'Dad's Army' was to his experiences. He started off with a wooden gun and eventually got his uniform and a real gun, though he had to wait for his bullets. The Captain of his unit was indeed the local bank manager and he was just as fussy as the eponomous charater of Arthur Lowe. His one memory was of being on duty, at night, protecting the pits and mills of Leigh and Atherton from invasion. He was stationed near a colliery near some fields with his best friend. They were chatting away and enjoying a fag when they heard a rustling in the grass and bushes. They elbowed each other in the ribs to see who would stand up and peer out into the murky fog. Was it a thief out for unrationed coal? Or worse still was it a Nazi paratrooper? Jack's friend stood up, held out his rifle and in a very shaky voice asked aloud "Who goes there?". Nothing. No sound or voice came back. Then another rustle of bush and my grandad now stood up. Both unable to see in the fog and getting scared. They both called out again "Who goes there?", fear in every part of their voices. Then they got their reply. In response, no more than a couple of feet to their left, bellowed loudly a very unhappy cow! They both spent the rest of the night laughing and looking over their shoulders. There are no pictures of Jack in his uniform and he didn't speak much about the war. I fancy he felt he should have gone to fight, but he was a muler and a miner. He worked in a mill near the railway line between Manchester, atherton, leigh and the whole of that Industrial area. The Luftwaffe spent many nights dropping huge landmines onto the tracks. If he wasn't on duty, he was working on the nightshift. I think he spent a good deal of time working with those people whose jobs it was to clear away the mess afterwards. Those memories he never shared. But he did always chuckle at the antics of his homeguard platoon.

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