Aireborough Historical Society

1939 to 1945 Home Guard and Royal Navy memories

Sam Kilburn
Machine Gun Sam on Right
Title Home Guard and Royal Navy
Sam Kilburn
Gender Male
Date of Birth February 1926
Currently Residing Rawdon
"When war broke out in 1939 I was still in the leaving class at South View School.
At the time of the outbreak of war I was taking papers for Parkers Newsagents shop at the bottom of the High Street (photo in the middle shows Sam and his friend Henry Ives standing in front of the shop)

I left school in 1940 and went to work for my uncle Albert at Nunroyd Mills but I hadn't been there very long before I was called back to school to play for the school football team as we were playing Otley in the final, and I am pleased to say we won the cup that year.

In 1941 I joined the Home Guard under age and although they found out I was under age and sent the police round to check with my mother, I was allowed to stay in and keep my uniform, but was not allowed to have a rifle until I was sixteen.
We used to meet and train in using weapons, I joined a machine gun team and was taught to strip down and re assemble a Browning Water Cooled machine gun in next to no time.(Bottom photo shows Sam on the right)
We also used to go to the shooting butts on Rombalds Moor for target practice and to the shooting range at Yeadon Aerodrome for small arms practice.
We did bayonet and hand grenade training in the field just above the park in Kirk Lane (now a housing estate) and for throwing Molotov Cocktails and hand grenades we would go to the quarry at the bottom of Hawthorn Terrace, now also built over

Around this time one of my mates joined the Navy underage and when he came on leave in his new uniform I was green with envy and couldn't wait to get in myself.
I altered my birth certificate and off I went to the recruiting office in Vicar Lane, Leeds where I was interviewed by a big Marine Sergeant who took one look at my birth certificate and said " You know what I could do to you for altering this?"
The thought of being shot at dawn came to mind but all he did was tear up my birth certificate and sent me home with a good telling off.
I saved up and managed to get a new certificate for five shillings and fourpence and I was off again to try and join the Navy as a boy seaman with a lad called Joe Scott from Rawdon, this time we were successful and were given forms for our parents consent, Joe got his signed and went off to H.M.S. St. George on the Isle of Man, but my parents wouldn't sign.

I carried on as a Machine Gunner until one day I saw a notice in the Post Office advertising a scheme called the Youth Entry scheme for joining the Navy.
I immediately got the forms filled them in and sent them off.
Some weeks later I got a letter and a travel warrant and was told to report to Darlington for a set of interviews lasting three days and if successful it would mean that I could go into the Navy as an Officer Cadet.
I was successful and was put on reserve until I was seventeen and was given a badge to sew on my Home Guard Uniform

When I was seventeen I was sent to H.M.S. Ganges at Shotley near Ipswich for seamanship training (Top photo)
As an officer cadet I was put in charge of a mess in which I was one of the youngest members and I had to find some way of keeping the older men in order as I knew this was a test of my leadership qualities.
I did manage somehow and after about a month of training which included learning knots, square bashing, climbing the mast and swimming in a tropical suit, rowing a cutter up and down the river and learning semaphore, I chose to do a course in telegraphy and go into coastal forces which meant either submarines or motor torpedo boats.
I was now sent to H.M.S. Valkyrie on the Isle of Man which consisted of several commandeered hotels along the seafront at Douglas where I trained as a telegraphist for six months, also learning to touch type in order to type the Morse which was too fast to write clearly.
Whilst I was in the Isle of Man I met up with Joe Scott who was still at H.M.S. St. George and we arranged to go out together, I quite enjoyed my time in Douglas as there was plenty of food, plenty of entertainment and best of all no air raids so we could get a good nights sleep every night.
The hotels along the front were divided into various camps for the forces and also for interned aliens, Germans and Italian

Written 1990

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