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15 October 2014
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Bedford Home Guard

by Civic Centre, Bedford

Contributed by 
Civic Centre, Bedford
People in story: 
Thomas George Eats
Location of story: 
Bedford
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A2674730
Contributed on: 
28 May 2004

I was employed by the Igranic Electrical Switchgear Company, and in 1940 they formed the LDV was formed by Antony Eden. A unit was employed to protect the factory from enemy attack; we had basic supplies of an armband and .22 rifles, borrowed from the local rifle sports club!

Once the Home Guard was formally created, of course we had official uniforms and arms, and a much wider role in the community. We went on exercises with the army in the Bedfordshire countryside, and attended weekend courses at the gas school, as well as continuing to protect the factory throughout the war, especially at night.

We never fought in direct action, although the factory was nearly hit when two American fighters from Duxford collided in the air above us, both pilots being killed. Bedford itself was bombed twice, once at 9 in the morning near the railway station, and luckily no one was hurt. The press covered this bomb blast because they coulod take photos, but the second bombing happened at night, and although nine people were killed, the press could't take any photos so they wouldn't cover the second bombing.

A V1 came very close to us, but ended up crash landing a few miles outside of Bedford, however Luton, only 20 miles away, did suffer damage by a V2.

In June 1942 we celebrated Jugoslav week in Bedford, and on Tuesday 9th King Peter and his mother Queen Mar visited. They received a salute from the war memorial, and I was part of the 1st Bedfordshire Battalion of the Home Guard who performed a march past.

On May 10th 1944 in the Bedford Corn Exchange there was a performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the 8th Bedfordshire Battalion, and some of the Home Guard played in the orchestra in their uniforms. The same orchestra played to mark Stalin's Birthday in the same year, and the Russian dignatories sat in the gallery fo the Corn Exchange. It was all kept very secret.

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