- Home Guard during the Second World War -
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The Home Guard was begun at the outbreak of war with local volunteer units which were formed in several regions, as an unpaid voluntary part-time force organised in county battalions under War Office control. In May 1940 the Government asked for men aged between 17 and 65 to serve with the Local Defence Volunteers, they were given military style training and sparsley equiped with army uniforms, weapons and amunition. Many of the men made their own weapons, a lethal mixture of pikes, clubs, knifes, molatov cocktails and fire traps. Due to the shortage of issued weapons the men used sporting guns if they were available. By the end of June one and half million men had joined and were undertaking training and mounting patrols to defend the British Isles against invasion. At the end of July 1940 the name was changed from Local Defence Volunteers to Home Guard. Their duty was to form a back-up to the regular army should the Germans invade.
Whilst the main ranks were made up from men in reserved occupations, boys as young as 14 were allowed to join as messengers and the oldest volunteers were up to the age of 80. Each man was were expected to do 48 hours of voluntary service each month, on top of their daytime work.
It was not until April 1943 that"nominated women were officially allowed to join in the roles of cooks, clerks and drivers. In July the women's branch was renamed Home Guard Auxiliaries
The Home Guard was officially disbanded on the 1st November 1944 as the threat of invasion had by that time evapourated.
28th Jun 1940 Reorganisation
31st Dec 1940 Accident
28th Feb 1941 On the Move
20th Jul 1941 Excerise
24th Mar 1944 Aircraft Down
19th Nov 1944 Parade
If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Adams Cecil.
- Back Warren.
- Bacon J.. L/Cpl.
- Banham Alec.
- Banks A.. Sgt.
- Barks Reginald William.
- Battle William. (d.18th August 1940)
- Baxter George.
- Bell T.. Lt.
- Boswell H.. Pte.
- Brinsmead John.
- Brown Walter.
- Burton George.
- Byers A.. Pte.
- Carpenter Sid.
- Carter W. R. G.. 2nd Lt.
- Caterer A. J.. Capt.
- Caux S.. 2nd Lt.
- Chester Arthur Gerald. Tpr.
- Chicken J. G.. Mjr.
- Church A. E.. Capt.
- Cockton W.. Cpl.
- Cooper Alan.
- Cowan T. H. . Pte.
- Coyle W.. Pte.
- Crellin . lt.
- Crichton George.
- Crosson William Frederick.
- Cunningham L. L.. Lt.
- Curtis Frank.
- Dear William Frederick.
- Dempster F.. lt.
- Dennington Arthur.
- Dight Clayton Henry Watkin. Pte.
- Dix-Perkin T.. Col.
- Dixon . lt.
- Doggart J.. Lt.
- Donnithorne C. A.. Mjr.
- Dryden William. Pte.
- Edgar W.. Lt.
- Edwards J.. Pte.
- Edwards William. Gnr.
- Elliot W. G.. Capt.
- Eyres William.
- Ferguson J.. Lt
- Ferguson J. S.. Lt.
- Fishwick R.. Pte.
- Fletcher Charles.
- Fletcher Len.
- Fletcher T.. Lt.
- Fondos George Nicholas.
- Fondos George Nicholas. (d.10th Apr 1941)
- Garner Jack.
- Godwin Russ.
- Goss George. Sgt. Mjr.
- Gregory F.. Capt.
- Grime Joseph Edward . (d.3rd August 1944)
- Grindale Joe.
- Hall Alfred. Lance Sgt.
- Hambler N.. Lt.
- Hammond Patrick J.. Mjr.
- Hannan Robert Alphonsus. Drmr.
- Harper H.. Lt.
- Harrison R. W.. Lt.
- Harvey William.
- Hawker K. W.. Mjr.
- Haylett Robert .
- Hetherington Tom. Gnr.
- Heyworth G.. Lt.
- Hicks .
- Hodgson M. S.. Mjr.
- Holland Alfred Joseph.
- Houghton J.. Lt.
- Howlett Stephen.
- Hubert Bayliff H.. Sgt.
- Hulme John William. Lt
- Hunter J.. Pte.
- Hunter Ned. Cpl.
- Irving . Capt.
- Irving Edwin.
- Jenkins L. R. G.. Mjr.
- Johnson Henry.
- Johnston William.
- Keen George Frederick.
- King Ernest.
- Kirkbride G.. Lt.
- Lacey Tom. 2nd Lt.
- Lambert Ken.
- Land William.
- Laurie W. L.. Lt.
- Lawson R. G.. Gnr.
- Leach George Henry.
- Lemon Kenneth.
- Lemon Percy.
- Little J. E.. Lt.
- Llewellyn Tommy.
- Logie-Robertson William Patrick. Corporal
- March Frederick Thomas.
- McIver Bernard.
- McKeating T. G.. Capt.
- McKeating W.. Lt.
- McMullen A.. Pte.
- McNarry R.. Pte.
- Mitchell T..
- Moffatt J.. Capt.
- Morley Mervyn.
- Mounsey J.. Lt.
- Muscott Will. Gnr.
- Needham B.. Pte.
- Neill H. G.. Pte.
- Ogilvie S.. Capt.
- Orange Jack.
- Osborn Raymond Arthur. Able Sea.
- Ousby T.. Lt.
- Park R.. Pte.
- Payne Sid.
- Price S.. Cpl.
- Prowse Ronald George Frederick. Sgt.
- Pryer Maurice.
- Pylon Geoffrey.
- Ray S.. Pte
- Reeve Herbert.
- Reid . Col.
- Richardson Frederick.
- Rose. QC . Mjr.
- Rothery .
- Rutterford Edgar Harry.
- Ryan Sid.
- Sandbash .
- Simpson R.. Pte
- Small E.. Lt.
- Smith H.. Lt.
- South Raymond.
- Southgate Jack.
- Spencer Les.
- Stalker Jonty.
- Stevenson R.. Lt.
- Steward Phillip.
- Swan F. J..
- Tombling Albert.
- Usher E. W.. Lt.
- Vale Billy.
- Vickery Brian Campbell.
- Vine Ernie.
- Walker Stan.
- Wash Wilfred.
- Watchorne J.. Pte
- Wilkinson Tommy. Mjr.
- Wilson Ernie. Bdr.
- Wing Douglas.
- Wing Jack.
- Wortley Dan.
- Wright Charlie.
- Wright Ken.
- Wright Raymond.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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Lt John William HulmeMy Father, John William Hulme was Lt. Hulme in Cleobury Mortimer Home Guard, South Shropshire. Can anyone provide any information on the Home Guard in South Shropshire?Gill M. Hulme
Reginald William BarksMy father, Reginald William Barks, served in the Home Guard in Ipstones near Leek in Staffordshire.Rose Sutton
Joseph Edward Grime ARP (d.3rd August 1944)I'm researching our Family Tree and we have very little information about my husbands' paternal grandfather, whom we believe served in London in the ARP, being killed in either Croydon or Crawley towards the end of the war, in active duty. His name was Joseph Grime and he was from Stoke on Trent. We think he'd have been born around 1908 and he was married to Florence. He left two children, Norman and Pauline, who, as they were so young at the time, didn't know very much about their daddy, only that they should be very proud of him. Steve, my husband, lost his dad very young too, so we're at a bit of a loss to find out more about this brave man. I have a lead on his gravestone in Stoke, so next time we're up there we'll be searching it out but in the meantime I'll let you know if I find out anything else. If anyone has any suggestions for searches for him, we'd be so very grateful. UPDATE: Joseph Edward Grime served with the Home Guard. He died at Ministry of Works Depot., Aurelia Road, Croydon on the 3rd of August 1944. He was aged 38 and was the son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Grime, of 61 Yoxall Avenue, Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent and husband of Florence Mary Grime, of 1 Oxford Crescent, Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent.Louise Grime
Robert Haylett MC & BarI have for a number of years tried to trace how my Grandfather, Robert Haylett, 37931, 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry, won his Military Cross. During WWI, he was commissioned in the field from Company Sergeant-Major to Lieutenant and then to Captain.
I have an old portrait of him in the uniform of the Home Guard during WW2, it is a photo that has been “touched up” ie coloured. On it he is shown wearing his WW1 medal ribbons and what appears to be two white and purple ribbons. I remember seeing the medals and there was a small silver rosette on the MC, signifying a second award.
If you have any information or know where I can obtain it please contact me.William Haylett
Frederick Richardson GM.My grandfather Frederick Richardson served in the local Home Guard and was awarded the George Medal for bravery. However, I cannot seem to find any record or reference to it. Can anyone point me in the right direction?Guy Richardson
George Burton 3rd. C.O.L. Battn.I joined the Home Guard as a messenger with 3rd. C.O.L.Battn. we were based at 10 Stone Bldgs. Lincoln Inn (with the Inns of Court T.A.) in August 1940. Our O/C was Maj. Rose, a QC, a lot of members were either barristers or lawyers. I was 14yrs old at the time and lived at Drury lane, before going into the army at 17 1/2 yrs. Through the day I worked as a vanboy in Smithfield meat market. When I first joined with my bicycle, the only weapons we had were Pikes, which were nearly twice my height,later we got the American p14 rifle, and later still got a Piat gun, we also got a lot of training from the Hampshire Regt. Before I got my uniform I just had a forage cap with the Royal Fusiliers badge and an L.D.V. armband, later we got issued with just denims before khaki issue.George Burton
F. J. Swan No 1 platoon 3rd (West Leicester) BattalionAs an underage member (graduating from the Army Cadets aged 15) of No 1 platoon, 3rd (West Leicester) Battalion, Home Guard, I vividly remember during our training sessions, being shown a road block entry to the village which consisted of holes set across the road, into which we had to insert upright lengths of tram track cut into about six foot lengths. We were then shown how we should take one of these lengths, and ram it into an enemy tank track. Another masterpiece which we were instructed to do, was to use our Boyes anti tank rifle, which fired a half inch bore bullet, to dent the rim of a German "Tiger" tank gun turret so that it could not be traversed. The bullet itself was insufficient to penetrate the armour plate of the tank.
We later had a "PIAT" launcher issued to us. This had a missile loaded into a cradle and was fired from on the shoulder like a bazooka. The missile itself looked like a small bomb, with fins, but also it had a long point at the front. The principle was that the charge would go down this point, after penetrating the armour, and explode inside the tank. Fortunately, we never had need to try out these items in real life. After D Day, a lot of Home Guard units were used, on a voluntary basis, and at weekends, to pack various items of ordnance for use by the Army in France. Our particular task seemed to be make bundles of cross pieces for for the top of signal posts to attach the wires to,like telegraph poles.
I was called up just 4 days before Christmas in 1944, and went to Cameron Barracks in Inverness. I was told to report in my Home Guard uniform.F J Swann
Col. T. Dix-Perkin Workington Btn.Col Dix-Perkin was the Sub-District Commander of the Home Guard in Workington, Cumbria
Pte. William Dryden Greatham Btn.My great uncle, William Dryden was farmer from Greatham in County Durham. He was a member of the Home Guard and an Auxiliary Unit which formed part of the ring around industrial Teesside. If anyone has any further information please get in touch.Angela
Brian Campbell Vickery Chemist Royal Ordnance Factory 37Making explosives
I was in the middle of studying at Oxford University for a degree in chemistry when World War 2 was declared. Oxford became crowded, as the government moved several civil service departments there. Our only direct contact with military matters was watching for firebombs at night on the roofs of laboratories (in fact, Oxford was never bombed). Just before my final exams in 1940, there came the evacuation of our army from Dunkirk, and for some reason troops of exhausted rescued soldiers came tramping through Oxford on their way to camp. Preoccupied by these glimpses of reality, there is little wonder that my exam results were poor!
In the summer of 1941 I finished my research year, and received an official letter: report to the Royal Ordnance Factory 37 near Bridgwater, Somerset, to work there as a 'plant chemist'. The factory was in the countryside, a few miles outside the town. It was just starting up, to make two explosives, tetryl and RDX. I had never been in a factory before, let alone an explosives factory, and the same was true of 95 percent or more of the staff, many drawn from the towns and villages of Somerset. Only a few senior chemists and foremen had any experience. RDX was a new chemical, designed by a government laboratory, and had never been made on an industrial scale. So we all had everything to learn. I was assigned to the RDX plant. On arrival, I was told to put on overalls. 'Have you ever seen an industrial pump?', I was asked. 'No'. 'So here is a spanner, here is a pump, take it to pieces and see how it works'. My first lesson in industrial chemistry.
The factory made explosives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, throughout the rest of the war (bar a few grand shutdowns for major maintenance). So there were three shifts of work each day. Apart from the two explosives plants, there were others making acids and other ingredients. Altogether there were employed about 50 plant chemists, a similar number of foremen, and the total workforce approached 3000. Between 1941 and 1945, about 20,000 tonnes of RDX were produced. In a chemical factory, it is the chemicals that do the main work, by interacting between themselves to make new ones. The people have the job of lugging the chemicals from one place to another, putting the right ones together in the right quantities, and watching thermometers and other indicators to see that the process is not getting out of control - a boring but vital job. Because RDX was so new, there was much not known about it, so the factory also had its own laboratory with another substantial group of chemists exploring its behaviour and checking on its quality.
What does a 'plant chemist' do? While the foreman allocates workers to jobs and supervises the work, the chemist is there to see that technically things are going as they should, and to give technical instructions on what to do when they aren't. We had many an emergency to cope with. Once on my shift, the temperature of a reaction vessel started to climb. We increased the flow of cooling water, brought in extra hoses, even stopped the inflow of chemicals into the vessel - all to no effect. The temperature went on climbing. I felt in my guts that something nasty was going to happen, so I got everybody out of the reaction room. The liquid in the vessel boiled, and scalding hot acid was spewed and sprayed about the room. Thank god no-one was caught by it.
RDX itself was a very safe chemical, a white powder. You could hammer it, even burn it without danger of explosion. The big problem for us was the very strong acid used to make it - the liquid acid itself, or even its fumes. From time to time acid tanks were emptied, and we would go inside them to clean them - and often come out gasping and choking from the fumes. We ate, in the middle of each shift, in a works canteen. Changing shifts and meal times each week, on canteen food, was not very good for the stomach. Every so often I was employed on a 'yield' test. This involved supervising the measurement of the input of all chemicals, and the output of explosive, over a period of 24 hours - working three shifts in a row. The worst feature of this exercise, apart from the lack of sleep, was eating the same canteen meal three times in a day!
From the raw RDX explosive we made two products. If you mixed RDX and TNT together, heated and stirred them, you got a toffee-like material. This was broken up into slabs and shipped out to shell-filling factories. There it could be remelted and poured into shells - they became the 'blockbuster' bombs used by the RAF. On the other hand, if you mixed RDX with the right sort of oil, you got a product like plasticine. This became the famous plastic explosive now known as Semtex, used not only by the Resistance in France but by many a terrorist since.
The manufacture of this plastic explosive gives an interesting picture of the realities of chemical production at that time. The oil was made from three materials: 'mineral jelly' (a petroleum byproduct), chunky sheets of crepe rubber, and slabs of beeswax (the product, we were told, of large African bees). These last two were chopped into small pieces, and heated together in a vat with the jelly and a little lecithin (a vegetable protein). They were rendered down into an oil, and heating was continued until the oil was 'the right viscosity' (stickiness). Viscosity was tested by taking a small sample of the oil on a dipstick, and touching a plate with this to see if it seemed 'sticky enough'. A batch of freshly made RDX was stirred into a large container with water, and heated. A dose of oil was poured in. If you were lucky, granules of RDX coated with the oil were formed, and these could be filtered off through a tap at the bottom of the container. If out of luck, the oil and RDX formed a single glutinous mass that had to be dug out. Oily granules were next loaded into water-jacketed vessels, heated and stirred – the vessels were in fact dough-mixers used in bread-making. Then the 'dough' was forced through heavy rollers. This was continued until the plastic was 'the right plasticity'. Plasticity was measured by taking a sample, cooling it, rolling it into a small sausage, and trying to stretch the sausage to see how quickly it broke. Unusable plastic was too crumbly, and broke too quickly.
At one time, we were getting too many unusable batches of plastic. For each batch of RDX, the works laboratory routinely made an analysis of the distribution of particle sizes. We had the idea that particle size might affect plasticity, and I looked back over our production records to seek some correlation. At first, no success, but then I speculated that the very large particles in a batch of RDX might be aggregates of small particles, that would break down during plastic production, so in the analysis we should add them to the count of small particles. This was successful – poor plasticity seemed to be correlated with an excess of small particles as now counted. We set a threshold value, and in future used for plastic explosive only RDX batches with the amended small-particle content below that threshold (other batches went into RDX-TNT toffee). Now most batches of plastic proved to be usable.
As well as the danger from acid, there were always mechanical accidents, and I was the victim of one. A process in making Semtex was to squeeze the plastic between big spring-loaded rollers. One day a fitter and myself were cleaning the rollers. The start button was on the other side of the machine, and he went round to switch the rollers on to test them. 'Are you clear?' he called. 'Yes', I replied, but I reached to pull out my cleaning rag. The rollers sucked in the rag and me, and took off the top of a thumb - luckily not the whole hand.
I went to Bridgwater hospital. Most of the regular staff had been drafted into military service, and those who remained were not the best. Because of inadequate antiseptics, a swelling crept up my arm, and the nurses desperately put the arm into a heated box to drive out the infection - happily successfully. One night the head (or perhaps only?) surgeon and the matron got drunk together, and at midnight decided to 'do the rounds', waking up the whole hospital.
Apart from working on the plants, men in the factory served in a unit of the Home Guard - and Dad's Army was not too far from the truth. German aircraft did not come near Bridgwater, let alone German troops, so our activities were mainly training for the action that never came, and sleepless nights guarding local bridges. We had one significant engagement. We were training with dummy mortars (no explosive) outside the factory. A shell was accidentally launched towards the factory, sailed in, hit and smashed the main steam-line, and closed down the whole works.
Working daily together on our RDX plant for four years led to close friendships - even though we scattered after the war and few of these friendships were maintained. One man I greatly admired was our senior plant foreman, Geordie Perkins. He was indeed a 'Geordie'. As a youth he had followed his dad into the Durham coal mines, but he soon had enough of it. If he left, it would put his father in a bad light. So they staged a fist-fight in the mine, Geordie shouting that he wanted out, his dad shouting that he would make him stay. The mine superintendent was so disgusted that he sacked Geordie on the spot. For some years he drifted doing navvy work on the roads, but eventually - because he was a very capable organiser - got more responsible work.
I lived in digs in Bridgwater at first, and came into contact with an amateur dramatics group. We had a lot of fun putting on plays for the local populace - probably more fun than the audiences had. In 1944 it was the centenary of the Cooperative movement (started at Rochdale a hundred years before). A playwight wrote a pageant, telling the history of the movement over the century, and every local cooperative society was encouraged to stage it. Printed copies of the play were provided, together with a 'production manual', and gramophone records of music and songs to be played during the show. The Bridgwater co-op decided to have a go, and asked the director of our amateur group to produce the pageant, with me as stage manager.
The characters in the pageant were to be played by those connected with the local co-op - employees or members - so it was indeed an amateur show. There was one problem - it was an historical display, so it needed period costumes. The only source was the theatrical costumiers of London. So I was despatched by train up to the big city to seek out the required outfits. Since co-ops all around the country were doing the same, costumes were in great demand. After a lot of searching, I found a costumier who could provide what we wanted, but rental prices were soaring by then. I had to telephone to Bridgwater for permission to clinch a deal. There was no subscriber dialling in those days, and the telephone system was very overloaded, so I rang the exchange and asked for the number, waiting long for a connection. During the wait, the Germans were sending over their little powered bombs - 'doodlebugs', as we nicknamed them. You would hear their engines chugging, then they would cut off and start to fall, and you waited breathless for the bang. Both the operator and I could hear them and we exchanged comments: 'ooh, that one sounded close'.
Eventually we got our costumes, did our rehearsals, and the big day arrived - a good turnout from local co-op supporters. Though once again it was like Dad's Army, the sight of local characters on stage went down well with the audience. The co-op butcher, due to play some historic role, became gloriously drunk and incapable. We got him into costume, pushed him on stage, told him to wave his arms, and I spoke his words from behind a screen. And that was our pageant.
During the last year of war I moved to the factory hostel, and made new friends. The summer of 1945 was hot, and I spent happy hours with the Irish girl who would later become my wife, cuddling in the sunny fields when we were off work. At last came the day of Victory in Europe. Everyone, of course, went to the pubs to celebrate. In the pub where my girl and I went with English friends, there was a contingent of Irish workers from the factory. They started singing Republican songs, leading up to 'The hanging of Kevin Barry'. At the end, there was a shout: 'That's what the bloody English did to the Irish' and all hell broke loose. My girl and I ran. Thus World War 2 in Europe ended, and an older one broke out again.Brian Vickery
Alfred Joseph "Dutch" HollandMy grandad was Alfred Joseph Holland, alias Dutch or Dutchy. Born in 1900, he was a chippy, but worked in a foundry and built plane cockpits with his eldest son of the same name, my dad. I know he served in the Home Guard in Coventry and was a fire watcher on one of the factories. Does anyone know how I can find out which Home Guard Battalion he was with?Tina Holland
Frederick Thomas MarchDon't know much. I know he was quite important in the home guard in Northamptonshire.Judi Pickering
William Battle 58th Battalion, Surrey Regiment (d.18th August 1940)I have been researching my family tree for the last few months. I knew that my great grandfather, William Battle, on my mother's side had been killed during WW2, but that was all I had been told. I have discovered that he was a platoon commander with the 58th Battalion, Surrey Regiment of the Home Guard. He was killed during the raid on RAF Kenley on the 18th August 1940 (the hardest day) age 61. He is on the roll of honours. He left a widow, Elizabeth J. Battle (my great grandmother) who I remember as I was 7 when she died. I would love to know (very long shot) whether anyone knew him and was a survivor of that day at RAF Kenley.
Another point of interest, William Battle had a nephew called Sydney Battle, Bedfordshire who died in 1917 during the Battle of Ypres, age 20, he is buried in France.Marcelle Williams
2nd Lt. Tom Lacey MID 12th Regiment HAC Royal Horse ArtilleryImmediately on joining in July or August 1942, Tim Lacy's CO said 'I'm going to sack the worst performing subaltern every month', which was a mighty motivation tool. This ended when they were send overseas, as a part of the First Army, to North Africa.
My dad's chief memories (he didn't talk about his wartime experiences a lot) seems to have involved food or drink - getting extremely drunk on hooch made from potatoes by his gun crew to celebrate New Year's day in 1944; eating a meal with an Italian family and eating so much pasta that he literally could not get up afterwards; and staying at a Doge's palace in Venice. He was involved in (or led?) a patrol that captured the first Tiger tank knocked-out in North Africa. Is this why he was mentioned in dispatches? I have always assumed so. He remembered Monte Cassino with bitter feelings.
Previous to joining the regular army, he was in the Home Guard. As it was obvious he would be called up (being physically fit and the right age), he was made a sergeant, to give him command experience, of a squad of very old soldiers. They wend on strike - this must be 1940 - as they refused to obey someone so young and inexperienced. He was hastily given a squad of younger soldiers until Sept 1941, when he was 21 and old enough to join the regular army.Clive Lacey
Edgar Harry Rutterford Cook Feltwell Btn.I am told by my mother that her father, Edgar Harry Rutterford, was in the Home Guard, Feltwell Btn.Lionel Badcock
Able Sea. Raymond Arthur Osborn HMS HoweMy father Raymond Osborn, volunteered to join the Royal Navy just before his 18th birthday in September 1941. Prior to this date he had been a member of the Home Guard. His service dates from 17th December 1941, when he was posted to HMS Collingwood for basic training, which he completed in February 1942. After his basic training and after 3 weeks officially attached to HMS Victory, he was posted to the commissioning crew of the new battleship HMS Howe which had been launched in August 1941 and was being fitted out on the river Clyde. He remained with HMS Howe until March 1946, when he returned to the UK from the Far East. After another month or so attached to HMS Victory he was de-mobbed in May 1946.
On the Howe he was an Anti Aircraft Gunner on a bank of Pom-Pom short range anti aircraft guns. After HMS Howe was commissioned she was sent immediately to escort support duties on the Arctic convoys to North Russia and later to Iceland for Atlantic convoy support and more Arctic convoy work. In 1943 the Howe was attached to the Mediterranean fleet and took part in Operation Husky, the Allied landings on Sicily. Where she took part in the bombardment of the island of Favignana (just of the western end of Sicily) and the nearby Italian naval base of Trapani. Following this the Howe and her sister ship HMS King George V escorted two captured Italian battleships to Alexandria.
After a brief trip back to the UK for a refit, the Howe was posted to the Pacific. The voyage to the Far East was via the Suez Canal. At that time the Howe was the largest ship to pass through the canal. The passage was not without excitement, as she went aground in the shallow Bitter Lake. The journey was via the Seychelles and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)to Sidney, Australia. Dad told me a story about Christmas Day 1944, which was spent chasing a Japanese submarine out of Sydney Harbour (I still don't know if that was true or not).
Next stop was Ackland, New Zealand, where the ships company took part in a march past. In 1945 the Howe was attached to the US Pacific Fleet and took part in the American island hopping campaign. Her last action was in the Battle of Okinawa, April to June 1945, where the Howe was one of the ships to lay down the initial naval bombardment and used to bombard the Japanese defenders throughout the battle. It was here that dad received a slight wound due to Kamikaze action. After Okinawa the Howe started her voyage home. First stop was Singapore, where the ships company marched past at the official signing of the surrender documents by Lord Mountbatten, in September 1945. The Howe then returned to the UK via he Cape of Good Hope, with stops at Ceylon, Seycheles, Mombassa, Durban and Cape Town then straight back to the UK for February 1946. Dad was de-mobbed on 1st May 1946.
I have all Dad's service documents, photos and medals, including the Russian Arctic convoy medal, the British Arctic Star brooch and (as of 18 October 2013) I am awaiting delivery of his official British award, the Arctic Star, which has been a long time coming.John Osborn
George Nicholas Fondos Home GuardGeorge Fondos was killed by an incendiary bomb at the Mercantile Dry Dock in Jarrow. It was George's night off but a friend asked if he could work that night. George had a brother, John Fondos who was taken prisoner at Dunkirk who survived the war. George was the youngest of 7 children and was my mothers brother.Frank Duke
Drmr. Robert Alphonsus Hannan 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling FusiliersBob Hannan joined up as a drummer boy in 1926 and was stationed at Holywood Barracks, Co. Down until 1933 when he moved to Aldershot. He went on to serve in Shanghai, Singapore and returned to Catterick in 1938 vefore he was demobbed. He was recalled for the duration of WW2 and in 1940 was wounded at Dunkirk and moved by mine sweeper to Mansfield Notts Hospital. After recuperation he was sent Crieff in Scotland to train members of the Home Guard.Robert Hannan
Russ Godwin Royal EngineersI joined the LDV, Home Guard, and then the Royal Engineers. I served in India, Ceylon and Singapore.Russ Godwin
George Frederick KeenGeorge Frederick Keen and George Henry Leach, were members of the Auxiliary Fire Service and the Home Guard. They attended a bombed munitions train in Tongham, Surrey around 22nd of August 1940. Read more.
George Henry LeachGeorge Henry Leach and George Frederick Keen, were members of the Auxiliary Fire Service and the Home Guard. They attended a bombed munitions train in Tongham, Surrey around 22nd August 1940. Read more.
John Brinsmead Rifle BrigadeI served in the Home Guard for a short spell, then as a Bevin Boy underground. Finally, I served with the Rifle Brigade in Germany. My father was a POW in Stalag XXB having been captured at Dunkirk. He also served in WW1.John Brinsmead
Bernard McIver 18th Btn. Staffordshire RegimentI was a member of the 18th Btn Staffs (ROF Swynnerton) Home Guard in WWII.Bernard McIver
Albert TomblingAnyone remember Albert Tombling from West Hartlepool who served in the Home Guard and then the RAF?Gaynor Greenwood
Sgt. Ronald George Frederick Prowse 158 SquadronMy Dad told me about my grandfather and his adventures. I called him Grandad George even though his name was Ron, I only ever heard my Grandmother call him this. George was a plumber before the War. He was born in 1922. I believe his occupation was a reserved occupation and he wasn't required to enlist. However, while working at Princetown Home of Dartmoor Prison, George received a few white feathers and subsequently asked his employer for permission to enlist.
Eventually, in 1943 he joined the RAF as part of 158 Squadron. Initially, George was a radio controller but couldn't get on with morse code so volunteered to be a rear gunner on a Halifax. Unbeknownst at the time, George suffered sinus problems so spent most of his flight time, with misted up flight goggles and icicles hanging from his eyes. Eventually he was grounded on medical advice.
George then joined the Navy as a coppersmith with the rank of Chief Petty Officer onboard the HMS Sirius (I think). Upon his return to shore and the end of his naval career, George became a member of the Home Guard. He is the only man I have come across to have been part of all 3 services He married my grandmother, Alma Wilkins, who was also involved in the war effort.
George was an amazing man and I am very proud to have called him Grandad. Sadly, he passed away in 2003 at the age of 81.Annette Prowse
William JohnstonMy dad William Johnston worked in the pit during the day and then was a Home Guard at the Mossbay Steelworks at night, guarding the coke ovens.G Wiggin
George Nicholas Fondos 7th Durham (Jarrow) Btn (d.10th Apr 1941)George Fondos died aged 18 a member of teh Home Guard. He was born in Jarrow in 1923, the son of Nicholas J. and Mary T. Fondos (nee Holland) of Jarrow.
George is buried in Jarrow Cemetery and is commemorated on the WW2 Roll of Honour Plaque in the entrance of Jarrow Town Hall.Vin Mullen
Pte. Clayton Henry Watkin Dight Heston Home Guard Middlesex RegimentMy father, Clayton Dight, has an interesting history. Unfortunately, due to the nature of his work during the war, he was in a reserved occupation and is still wary of discussing it today after a lifetime of secrecy.Kevyn Dight
Tpr. Arthur Gerald Chester North Irish HorseGerry Chester served with the Home Guard in his home town of Wallasey, before enlisting in September 1942. He trained with the 57th Training Regiment RTR at Warminster in Wiltshire and was posted to the North Irish Horse, serving with them in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.
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