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15 October 2014
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My Grandfather - A Full Time Military Guard

by Dunstable Town Centre

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Archive List > Home Guard

Contributed by 
Dunstable Town Centre
People in story: 
Andrew Cameron
Location of story: 
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A5968371
Contributed on: 
30 September 2005

Private Andrew Cameron DCM, MM (Ex Durham Light Infantry). Photographed in 1941 while a Full-Time Factory Guard at AC Sphinx, Dunstable and a member of their Factory Home Guard Unit ('H' Company, 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Home Guard, later 'B' Company, 6th Battalion).

This story was submitted to the People's War site by the Dunstable At War Team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

My Grandfather, Andrew Cameron worked as a full-time Military Guard at the combined AC Sphinx and Delco, Remy and Hyatt site on Watling Street, Dunstable. These firms amalgamated after the war to form AC Delco, recently demolished. Both firms were on the secret South Beds Region list of ‘Key Points of National Importance’, necessitating full-time armed guards.

He was included in the AC Sphinx Home Guard Factory Unit with the part-time volunteers drawn from the work force, but operated in a rather different way. As the photograph shows, he wore the peaked ‘Dress Cap’ instead of the side (forage) cap worn by all (except staff) officers and men of the part-time Home Guard, and he carried a sidearm (a holstered revolver) instead of a rifle. Because his uniform differed in this way from the standard Home Guard type, early in the war he was once detained by the Dunstable Police as he walked past the old Police Station in High Street South, on his way home to Stiper’s Hill after a shift. They only released him after they had telephoned AC Sphinx to confirm his identity and job!

He manned the Main Gate of each firm, on different shifts, to oversee the entry of the workforce. All passes had to be produced and checked and as a former Regimental Policeman in the Army he made no exceptions, even the members of his own family that worked there! Once the gates were closed he patrolled the premises and did lookout duty on the roof of the main building. He was on the roof when the German bomber went past in October 1940, machine-gunning the High Street. My mother remembers him coming home that day and telling her about it; he took it very much in his stride. He also did lookout duty on some Sundays, on the top of the north end of the Chalk Cutting near the factory. My mother remembers walking there from Stiper’s Hill to take him his lunch.

During WW II the whole family worked locally, apart from the youngest son who was still at school. My grandmother, Janet Cameron, took in several evacuees throughout the war including some parents of children ‘bombed out’ from London. She received the Queen’s Certificate for this. She also organised collections for the Penny-a-Week Fund for the Red Cross and St John Ambulance and received the Duke of Gloucester’s Certificate in recognition of this work. She went out to work for the first time during the war, at AC Sphinx, winding coils for electric motors.

My grandfather was an ex-Great War soldier, with the Durham Light Infantry in the Ypres Salient in Flanders in 1915/6 and clearly a very brave man. He was decorated for searching for and carrying wounded under heavy fire, being badly wounded by shrapnel while doing so. Until 1914 he had been a coalface ‘Hewer’ in the Durham pits and my mother says he was ‘absolutely fearless’. My mother recalls him saying that if the Germans did invade he would save three bullets for his daughters, because he had seen what the Germans did in Belgium in the First World War. He wasn’t joking.

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