The Wartime Memories Project - The Home Guard

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The Home Guard was begun from the outbreak of war as 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.

List of those who served with the Home Guard during the Second World War.

If you have any names to add to this list, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.

Lt John William Hulme

My 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 Barks

My 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 & Bar

I 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) Battalion

Glenfield Home Guard 1944

As 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

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