- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Sydney Smith nee Watson; William Henry Stallwood
- Location of story:
- Wembley, Middlesex
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 01 June 2005
I was just 5 years old when World War Two began. This story is told as I saw the Home Guard as a child.
My stepfather was too old to be conscripted into the forces
He was recruited into the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) At first he had no uniform, when it was at last issued there was a grand trying on of the uniform. To me as a child he seemed so old, but with his WW1 medal ribbons, he was a proper soldier, I was so proud of him.
He was a member of the Red Cross and wore a Red Cross armband this was special, as even at that young age I wanted to be a nurse, and like him help with the wounded troops.
At first the LDV were not issued with weapons, they had to improvise as best they could. His weapon was a broomstick with a carving knife on one end. If the Germans had invaded they would have fallen about laughing, seeing a band of old men waving broomsticks with carving knives on them. Since I became an adult, I realise just how brave they were.
Eventually they were issued rifles, if I remember, the rifle stood in the corner of the hall, we children were forbidden to touch.
Then there was the field kitchen, installed in the driveway of our house. This was a metal box about two feet long with a chimney at one end. From time to time the Home Guard held exercises on a Sunday. Civilians were not allowed to leave their homes as whatever they were doing it was considered too dangerous, looking out of the window. I watched my stepfather cooking dinner in pouring rain on the field kitchen for the troops, why not come indoors and use our stove instead of that smoky thing? The men did not use plates, they used tins called ‘Billy cans’ My Dad was called Bill, I thought the cans were named after him.
I remember my Dad going out at night on exercises or fire watching. When he was out we didn’t sleep in the Anderson* shelter, it always had water in it, Dad would insist on us going in when he was home.
I have no recollection of when the Home Guard ceased to be, looking back over 60 years I can only take my hat off to these old men who were prepared to defend the Home Front when the odds were against them.
* named after one of the Home Secretary’s.
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