“Our parents bought us tin helmets and toy machine guns and we formed our own Battalion” – Playing in Sandwell Valley during WWII

Read John Shrimpton’s amazing account of playing as a boy in trenches at Sandwell Valley Country Park. Did you know some of the smaller pools there are WWII bomb craters? Thanks to www.livingmemory.live for sharing it with us.


“During the war, of course there were Barrage Balloons, the Air Force was down Sandwell Park as it was then, by Park Farm, and we kids, when the war broke out, our parents bought us tin helmets and toy machine guns and we formed our own Battalion and we marched off down Sandwell Park, which was out of bounds.  We were trespassing, but we didn’t bother about that, we’d got a war to win!  And surprise, surprise, we found some trenches down there, so we went in the trenches, we shot Hitler a few times!

We had a dog with us, Nobby, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, he was our guardian and we could do anything with him, and then when we felt hungry we came home to have our dinners.

And my Grandpa Dyer, I was telling him that we discovered this trench.  ‘Ooh’ he says, ‘we dug those trenches out in the 1914-18 War!’ he says ‘when I was in the volunteers’.  That was the forerunner of the Home Guard.  And he said ‘we used to go down there for rifle practice’.  He says ‘you know one day, one of our blokes, he shot a cow.  Ooh’ he says, ‘there was a terrible row!’  He says, ‘and the farmer, we feared him more than the Kaiser!’ “

This extract was kindly offered to us by the Living Memory Project – an amazing resource that tells the stories of everyday life of Black Country people. To read the full piece and discover more of their fascinating accounts of Sandwell life here https://livingmemory.live/about-the-project/

A huge thank you to Geoff Broadway at Living Memory. All content property of The Living Memory Project

John collected notes on Sandwell Valley wilflife for many years
John in his National Service uniform in the 1950s

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