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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
Warwickshire Libraries Heritage and Trading Standards
People in story: 
Pt Sydney Prowting
Location of story: 
Surrey; London
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A4079315
Contributed on: 
17 May 2005

I was 15 and a half when war was declared. I left school in June 1939. I had to do fire watching but I hated the helmets they gave the firewatchers, so as soon as I was old enough I went into the homeguard.

Two days after war was declared, I was working in Vickers in Weybridge, Surrey. When I was 16 they offered me an apprenticeship, and I got stuck there for the whole of the war.

On 27th April, 1942 I joined the Home Guard. At the end of 1944 two of us were asked to represent the 10th Battalion East Surrey Regiment (a Home Guard regiment) on the Home Guard's 'Last and Greatest Day': the last march of Home Guard veterans through London.

It was 3rd December 1944. We marched from Hyde Park, down Piccadilly, Oxford and Regent Streets, and came back to the saluting base in Hyde Park. The Mail reported on 4 December 1944, "The King and Queen and two Princesses stood for nearly an hour at the saluting base.....The biggest crowds of the war lined the procession route...". My boots were white with perspiration.

We were stationed in Chelsea Barracks. That evening there was the 'Home Guard Stand Down Concert', given by the 'Daily Mail', with stars such as Tommy Trinder, Elsie and Doris Walters, Vera Lynn, Cicely Courtnedge, Violet Loraine and George Robey

Me and my mate were stopped by an officer on the way back to the Barracks and asked if we had tickets for the concert. He gave us two. We got cleaned up and went along to the Albert Hall. We were shown into a box. There was us two Privates and all the rest had red tabs! They were all officers and their ladies! We were greatly embarrassed.

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