The Company was formed in 1924, by Harry Rowley who became the first Captain, and remained in that position for a period of 10 years. The Captaincy was then taken over in 1934 by a gentleman by the name of Wilf Jones. Unfortunately we know little of him and have no photographs of him.
Three years on in 1937 at the age of 22, Harry Neale took over the reigns and led the Company through the next 37 years until 1974. During that period Harry also served on the Brigade’s National Executive and was instrumental in starting up the West Bromwich Battalion. Harry’s period of Captaincy was by far the longest and many members have measured the success of the 5th by Harry’s leadership and vision. In September 1974 after celebrating the 5th’s 50th year, Harry stood down both as Captain and as a BB Officer.
The Captaincy was then taken over by Mick Osborne who took over the role of Captain until September 1977. Ian Collett then took over as Captain and led the Company for the best part of 10 years, handing the role back to Mick Osborne in 1987. Mick’s second stint as Company Captain lasted for four years until 1991.
The Company then entered a more difficult period from the point of view of the stability of the Company Captaincy.
Harry’s brother and long time officer Jack Neale took over the role in March 1991 but had to resign in late 1992 due to ill health having suffered two heart attacks and having had a knee operation.
Kevin Cooper (Jake) was Captain from 1992 to 1994, and then from 1994 to 1997 no one was willing to take the over the appointment. In 1997 Carl Phillpott took over the position as Captain but relinquished it in 1998.
Since 1998 to the date of writing this record there has once again been no one appointed as Company Captain. In 2000 Rory Green became Officer in Charge of the Company Section and the main point of contact for the Company by the Battalion and Brigade Headquarters, and therefore by definition has performed many of the tasks and taken much of the responsibility that would normally be performed by a Company Captain without actually accepting the appointment.
The above information has been kindly supplied by Ian P Collett who is currently compiling a history of the 5th West Bromwich Company