A Retired General in WW2
The nearest part of this range, with the three upstairs windows, was the old Bletchley Police Station. Here were the headquarters of A Company, Bletchley Home Guard.
By Guest writer John Taylor (Not John O'Hara as previously stated; sorry John Taylor)
This is part two of three. Part one was two weeks ago; A Naval Man in Buckinghamshire.
It was 1939. In September, six months after General Harold Blount had retired, war with Germany had been declared. Harold Blount was then sharing Woughton House in Woughton on the Green with his brother Oswald.
Their domestic staff comprised of a cook, two housemaids, a parlour maid, and a kitchen maid. The house also accommodated, for Bletchley Park or one of the other secret organisations now in North Bucks, two secretaries, ‘Civilian Admiralty NI’. That is, Naval Intelligence.
Not far away at Woughton Cottage lived the Blount’s chauffeur Patrick O’Reilly, with his wife and their schoolboy son. The cottage still exists, but it's now called The Old Thatch.
General Blount commanded A Company of Bletchley’s Home Guard, and their headquarters were at the police station in Simpson Road, Fenny Stratford.
The General kept good time; one police inspector would later recall; “You could tell to the minute what time it was by his comings and goings.”
He had also been appointed as Town Commander, and so the General lead over 100 men of the Home Guard to the service at St. Martin’s Church, Fenny Stratford, for the National Day of Prayer in early September 1941.
The home of General Blount's chauffeur, Woughton Cottage on Newport Road.
The continuing possibility of invasion was the topic in a March 1942 meeting of the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) Committee in the Bletchley Urban District Council offices. In a February 24th letter General Blount had asked permission to use ‘in case of necessity’ the Council Chamber as a local defence battle headquarters, and the committee agreed.
A week later at the BUDC offices, as the Senior Military Representative General Blount attended a meeting of the Local Defence Committee. One consideration was the appointment of a small executive committee, to function under the conditions of blitz or invasion.
A large committee was deemed to ‘be useless and possibly ineffective under such conditions,’ (nothing changes) so it was agreed that the committee would consist of the chairman (Councillor Flack), General Blount, the Superintendent of Police, plus the ARP Officer and one Clerk.
During the pre invasion period this would cover all ‘minor matters,’ such as arranging lectures, considering circulars received, and imparting information to the present and larger committee.
Now the Bletchley Freemasons Hall, this building was purpose built as Bletchley Urban District Council offices at the Fenny Stratford end of Bletchley Road, renamed the Queensway after a visit by the Queen in 1966. First occupied in 1903, it was the council offices during WW2.
In February 1944 General Blount became president of the Bletchley branch of the British Legion, succeeding the late Brigadier J.P. Whiteley. He would hold the post for many years.
In December of 1944 a meeting of A Company (Bletchley) Home Guard agreed the formation of a rifle club, to be known as The Bletchley Home Guard Rifle & Social Club. The General was appointed as President of that organisation too.
German forces in Europe surrendered in May 1945, and the Japanese surrendered in August that year. With the war over, large crowds attended the local open-air services on Sunday November 11th, the first day of Thanksgiving Week.
As part of these services, General Blount laid a wreath on behalf of the British Legion, at the Bletchley war memorial in Church Green Road.
Next week we will look at General Blount’s life after WW2.
Many thanks to local historian Charlotte Hall for her help with this series.
This post's photos were taken with a Pentax camera and lenses.
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Where (on the Newport Road) is the thatched cottage of the general’s former chauffeur Roger, I can’t place it. The only thatch cottage I recall from the late 40’s was about half way down the road from the Jubilee Oak to The Green, on the left – then occupied by Bill Shouler.
Posted by: John O'Hara | 05 October 2022 at 04:15 AM
the cottage is to the North of Woughton House, just past the entrance to the modern Baskerville Grove; it's on the left of Newport Road as you go North.
Before Milton Keynes came, a footpath from the corner of the field right next to the cottage led to The Green, running diagonally across the field.
Here's the cottage on Google Maps:
Posted by: Roger Bradbury | 05 October 2022 at 07:05 PM
Thanks for that Roger - from the Google map I can place it exactly. From my recall, I suspected it could be that house, just north of Woughton House, but as it used to be surrounded by high trees, the thatch roof wasn't so obvious from the road. Actually the thatched roofs are quite difficult to spot from the aerial shots as they look like slate roofs.
In our time that house was occupied by Mr Organ, then Tom Croft (he worked at Woughton House).
I commented (after my very brief walk in 2007 along the road to The Green) how little Woughton had changed - of course that's only the case for The Green area, the aerial views show just how massive the changes have been elsewhere, unrecognisable to me now.
Posted by: John O'Hara | 06 October 2022 at 02:16 AM