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Llandew Home Guard

by Ian Stone

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Ian Stone
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Civilian Force
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21 October 2005

Home Guard in Brecon

I remember something of the build up to the war, standing with my father near Tangmere airfield in Sussex and seeing fighter planes lined up, my father murmuring darkly. He was a Welsh farmer who in 1935 had moved us to Sussex and rented a farm. We had a fascist landowner, Lady Beaumont, with whom he quarrelled constantly. She was not just inclined to the extreme right, but a fully paid-up member who entertained Mussolini’s son at weekends. She was interned when the war broke out. Before this happened my father followed the Welsh practice of retreating to the hills and took us all back to Breconshire in 1940.

There although he had no military training he was put in charge of our local Home Guard. At first it was called the Local Defence Volunteers, the L.DV, known to the membership as Look, Duck and Vanish. No uniforms at first, just an armband. My father’s unit was entrusted with guarding a remote mountain, Ysywydd Hwch, two men at a time on the mountain all night. They were to look out for German paratroopers. He and the vicar of Llandew, the Rev Madoc Jones, were doing this duty the night the first air raid sounded. Had paratroopers arrived they had no means of communication other than going down to the nearest village and using the call box. The vicar was originally in charge of the group until the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon put his foot down. He remained in the ranks. I liked the Home Guard because I kept the Lewis gun in my bedroom under my bed. We had a box of hand grenades in one of our barns as well as the ammunition. I learned how to strip down the Lewis gun and how to clean my father’s Lee Enfield 303. My father made it more comfortable on the mountain by donating an old but roomy dog kennel for the two guards. There were exercises, mock skirmishes with the groups in nearby villages. Llandew had a notable success in one of these because my father decided to use 12 bore shotguns with blank cartridges instead of the usual practice of pretence firing. I prepared a box of cartridges for this, removing the lead shot. The apparent firepower of Llandew had a devastating effect on I think Llanfillo. In these exercises captured prisoners had to remove their headgear. In one set-to with the real army, soldiers from the barracks in Brecon, an Indian soldier was captured, a Sikh. Breconshire farmers had a sketchy knowledge of eastern religions and the exchanges were heated when they tried to remove his turban. The German paratroopers never materialised, and the only sign of warfare, was seeing the sky red at night in the south west, Swansea burning.

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