- Contributed by
- Warden D
- People in story:
- Roy Norris
- Location of story:
- Buckingham, Buckinghamshire
- Background to story:
- Home Guard
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 29 December 2003
I currently work for the National Trust at a property called Stowe Landscape Gardens which is near Buckingham. We recently held a 1940s weekend and as part of the research for the event I interviewed Roy Norris who is currently a National Trust volunteer at Stowe Landscape Gardens near Buckingham.
Roy recalled how the Second World War bought him to Buckingham, his time in the ARP and the Home Guard.
Roy lived in London working in a factory making parts for tanks. However during the Blitz the factory was bombed and the company relocated to Buckingham. This was back in 1940. Roy recalls, "London and the Blitz was an exciting time for a 20 year old man. No sleep just surviving. Arriving in Buckingham was like arriving in fairyland. Full of lovely friendly people and it was so peaceful".
Roy had previously been in the local Home Guard, but as he was in digs with the leader of the ARP, he felt obliged to join the ARP. Roy became an Ambulance driver of a mobile operating theatre but soon became fed up and joined the Buckingham Home Guard. The Home Guard were based in the old Post Office in West Street behind which was the parade ground. The Buckingham Home Guard had 100 members divided into 2 sections. A rifle section and a mobile (Commando) section armed with Sten guns.
The Buckingham Home Guard armoury could also boast a heavy machine gun and a First World War anti tank gun. Roy & the other members of the Home Guard would man key strategic points around Buckingham and meet every Saturday morning for training. The training was a serious affair, and covered almost every aspect of warfare. Target shooting occurred in the town's clay pits, along with grenade, rifle and bayonet practise. Other topics included battle manoeuvres, field craft as well as silent killing. "We also went on exercises with the regular army", Roy recalls, "Using proper guns and training with explosives. I learnt demolition, blowing holes in the ground, even how to put explosives on doors. I remember if you put charge in the ground, blowing it up to make a cavity, place explosives in the cavity then discharge, will make a huge hole".
"Major Hocking was in charge and he lived at the White Horse in Buckingham. He was also an adjutant with the regular army. The Regimental Sergeant Major also became the drill instructor. He was an awful, typical Sergeant. He used to pinch everyone's girlfriends, including mine. He used to march us thorough the town, from the old Post Office in West Street and holler at people just to show off.
Bruce Barr, who was a Biologist at Stowe School was a huge man, we used to call him the Greek God. He used to do PT lessons in unarmed combat. I remember once when training we nearly killed each other. I managed to get him in a neck hold and he put his fingers up my nose and pushed me back. He was apologising as he was throttling me!"
"Battle training was held in the grounds of Stowe school (now The National Trust property Stowe Landscape Gardens) which where also open to the public as a park. You could court your girlfriends in the park and swim in the 11 acre lake".
"I was glad to be part of the Home Guard. I felt I was making a serious contribution to the war effort, really positive. I learnt a lot of skills and instilled confidence in me".
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