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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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No Lights: The Home Guard in Leicester

by Scatty

Contributed by 
Scatty
People in story: 
Mr George Scattergood
Location of story: 
Braunstone Park, Leicester.
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2007181
Contributed on: 
09 November 2003

This story was related to me by my father who died in 1989:
In the opening two years of the Second World War,prior to full call-up, my father was a member of the Home Guard. He was stationed at Braunstone Hall in Braunstone Park, a large mansion which had, for many years, been a school. The Hall had substantial walled gardens and was surrounded by a natural woodland with walks. Understandably, this meant that, during the blackout, it was very black indeed!
On numerous occasions, the Home Guard had been warned about using a light in the vacinity of the park and this rule was, for the most part, adhered to, even if it meant no smokes.
One windy night, while patrolling the grounds and spotting, my father lost his cap. Despite the best search that they could manage, neither he nor his friends could find it and they decided that it must have blown some way away. It was not done to be without your cap - so someone suggested that they light just one match and have a quick look round. So they huddled together and did just that...
My father said that no one had ever found a cap so quickly as they did then. The night exploded into noise and movement, and creatures that they could not see rained down all around them, flapping and squarking. The patrol took off like greased lightening and got into a clear area.
Soon, they could hear the sounds of a large number of men moving towards them and were confronted by numerous other members of the Home Guard, all clutching weapons and preparing to attack intruders. My father and his mates immediately joined in. No intruders were found and the Home Guard stood down.
Next morning, it dawned on my father that lighting that one match had disturbed the crows roosting in the trees and, disorientated, they had simply fallen off their perches. Neither he nor the patrol ever mentioned this, but they were quite insistant that everyone obeyed the "lights out" rule from that point on!

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