2 thoughts on “54th Searchlight Regiment, R.A., T.A. Norton Drill Hall, pre WW2

  1. The 1930’s a bad time for many with no work for many of the young men in the recession of the times, they joined the army or the TA. Those who joined the local Infantry Regiments I found out later were sent off to the Empire, I had one WO a local chap who had gone to India just got back home and was recalled when war was declared, Getting through the war in one piece he rejoined, he knew no other life.
    The TA was at least some money coming in, there were new TA Centres at Norton and Middlesbrough, They got away to camp for training it was different and although many people thought a war was coming including my parents others would be enjoying the escape from the daily grind.
    There was a mass call up of the TA when war was declared, the Drill Halls were crammed as tents went up behind Norton Drill Hall then they had to put up a make ship camp at the top of Bradbury Road, we young lads and lasses who were only going to school for half a day, one week mornings the next afternoons, would wander up there and watch them working and as many were Fathers we sat talking sometimes got some of their sausage soup cooked on open fires which I thought was lovely grub. What did make me think as we played with WW1 Rifles was they only had twenty rounds per man. What I thought were drain pipes were a type of rocket launcher called a Blacker Bombard. Of course everyone said the war would be over by Christmas, my Dad said they told them that when the WW1 started and so we began the phoney war, nothing much happened and we had a normal Christmas when half the kids in Norton or so it seemed got new bikes, mine was a Hercules £4/19/6 from Barries Stockton, possibly most would be on so much per week as it was a lot of money at the time.
    1940, most of the men disappeared and the war began with a bang, we started to see the Telegram Boys on their bikes delivering yellow envelopes, we all knew what they were. More chaos as Industry discovered they had lost their workforce, men were brought back home and placed in essential work, some ship yard workers found themselves being shipped out to Gibraltar and Egypt as ship repairers, a man I worked with much later said he spent the war in the Mediterranean doing that.
    TA Units fought with the regular army, we could not have done it without them. I saw them disbanded as the TA and reformed as the T&AVR. All their old kit was handed in and I found myself driving 1930’s Vehicles to mass dumps for scrapping. My young drivers could not handle double declutching and Gate gear boxes. The T&AVR were re-kitted, not before time and now form part of the modern army. T&AVR people men and women have served in Iraq and Afganistan and will continue to serve as they have done from the days of Wellingtons Army, I raise my hat to them all.
    Frank.

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