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15 October 2014
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Anti aircraft guns and sticky bombs in the Home Guard in Cardiff

by helengena

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Stanley Hayward
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
27 July 2005

This story was submitted by Helen Hughes of the People's War team in Wales on behalf of Stanley Hayward and is added to the site with his permission.

I was born in 1926 so when I left school the air-raids were just starting - 1940. I used to pick up the planes from the school playground and the headmaster and other teachers would be out smoking and would say where’s it to…and I’d say I can see it, I can see it a little white plane up there in the sky like….and he’d follow my finger and then he’d say “I can see it now…. you’ve got good eyesight” I was nearly 14. I left in August and was an apprentice in a garage. I wanted to join the Home Guard. My brother was in it he was two years older than me and he went on the anti-aircraft guns… I volunteered and they put a bracket on my bicycle to cycle around the countryside, looking for parachutists, with a rifle on the bracket and a loaded clip of ammunition. Well I didn’t see any parachutists — I got fed up with that, no-one to talk to ….caught out from the air-raids so I thought I’d come back in and said “I don’t want this anymore…I want to go on the anti-aircraft guns”…he said “How old are you?” I said: “I’m sixteen” “Alright then” he said so he put me down Sully with my brother. And we have half an aeroplane….you work that one out: we shot down a half an aeroplane. Weston super Mare is on the other side of the channel they had artillery over there and they say they shot it down and we said we shot it down at Sully. So they gave us half an aeroplane…they had half and we had the other half and that aeroplane would now be in the Severn…in the river.

Cardiff had quite a lot of bombing, Neville Street, wherever the railway lines were, that was what they were after….and of course the main railway line to Paddington goes right through Grangetown and so Grangetown had it very very bad there. And there was the bakery down there which was used as an air raid shelter and the night it was bombed people were in there…I suppose they were playing cards and things like that. I think a lot of them were cemented over because the bomb went straight down through the roof.

If it wasn’t for the veterans of World War 1 there wouldn’t have been any Home Guard….because I was trained by the veterans of World War 1….the same as if there was a war now, I’d be a bit too old to join the Home Guard…but it would be people like us who would be training the next ones. It was the World War 1 veterans who trained us how to throw grenades, to use a 303 and everything like that….throwing sticky bombs at tanks and stuff like that. A sticky bomb was a large stick with a great big round thing…imagine if you were playing bowls and inside that ball was sticky stuff and mounted on a stick and you ran up to a tank and threw it at the tank and all the sticky stuff in the ball would stick to the tank and it would explode and blow the tank up. The Russians were very good at that in the last war…but you had to run at a tank and throw it. Well I was given one of these and we had a great big steel plate on the ground and they said you run up now and throw it at the plate and run like Hell because it’s going to go off. Well so many people had thrown a sticky bomb on it that it had a big hole in the centre and have a guess where my grenade went….right through the hole and blew the steel sheet up in the air like a newspaper floating down on top of us. It was about six or seven foot square. When you see Dad’s Army…it was a little bit like Dad’s Army, but there was a serious side to it which I say us chaps on the guns.

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