The Soldiers of the Worcestershire Regiment
Recruits came from all parts of the West Midlands to be turned into soldiers. In total, 10,375 men of the Worcestershire Regiment died in both Word War 1 and World War 2.
A typical day for a new recruit of Norton Barracks during World War 2.
The 6 weeks training to change a recruit into a soldier, would consist of:
- 5.30 a.m. – A typical day started with Reveille (a bugle/trumpet call to wake the soldiers to be ready for duty). Recruits would parade for an hour and a half to work on their fitness.
- 8.00 a.m. – Breakfast – a full English breakfast was available.
After breakfast, the recruits would practice some of the following drills:
- Shooting practice on the 30 yard rifle range
- 2. Bayonet practice on the field
- Assault course in the ‘Farm Fields’
- Physical Training – intense fitness training
- Square Bashing – marching on the parade ground
- Weapons training – rifle and machine guns
- Gasmask drill (World War 1 onwards)
- A route march – which could be up to 15 miles
- Grenade throwing – with live grenades
- 12.15–2pm – Lunch.
- 2pm – returning for more drills until 4.15pm. The unlucky might be detailed off for fatigues (scrubbing floors or peeling potatoes etc.) or work parties thereafter, but otherwise the recruits were off duty. They would normally spend this time cleaning their kit and shining boots.
Soldiers uniforms over the years
When the Worcestershire Regiment arrived in Norton in 1881 their uniform was typical of a British infantry regiment – blue trousers, black felt helmet and a red woollen tunic. Red was a traditional colour for the British infantry and allowed a commander to easily identify his troops in the heat of battle. As the years passed army uniforms developed and by 1900 the overseas colour was khaki so as to aid camouflage. Although the infantryman’s appearance and weapons changed over the years his role and equipment remained fundamentally the same.
Typically he would have had to carry,
- Rifle and bayonet
- Water bottle
- Blanket or Great Coat
- Ammunition pouches – for bullets and later grenades
- Small pack – containing more ammunition as well as rations and cleaning kit.
Below are hand drawings depicting the uniforms over the years.
The Garrison Church
No church was built within the barracks as St James the Great, Church Lane, Norton, was used as the Garrison Church from 1881 to 1962.
On Sundays the soldiers would march to the church for morning service and the local vicar was appointed as the official padre to the barracks.
This close connection resulted in some regimental colours being ‘laid up’ in the church.
In the church brass tablets have been placed in memory of two soldiers and on the south wall is a memorial ‘in memory of all the ranks of the regiment, sometime members of the congregation of Norton Church, who gave their lives in the wars 1914-1918 and 1939-1945’.