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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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My War Memories

by ageconcern7oaks

Contributed by 
ageconcern7oaks
People in story: 
Geoffrey Tucker
Location of story: 
Umberleigh, Devon
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3825894
Contributed on: 
24 March 2005

War Memories — Geoffrey Tucker

I have two particular memories of the Home Guard and I relate these below;

1)
At my prep school in Devon in 1940, shortly after the surrender of France, when I was ten I remember seeing two of the junior masters going out onto Dartmoor to keep watch for heavily armed German paratroopers. It was in the early days of the Home Guard and uniforms had not been issued. As a result they wore arm bands with the letters LDV (Local Defence Volunteer) on them. Presumably, this made them combatants so if they were taken prisoner they could claim they were soldiers. I think one of them had a shotgun and this must have been their total equipment. Fortunately, the enemy was not encountered.

2)
Later in the war I was living in Umberleigh, a village in North Devon near Barnstaple. We were told that a mock battle would take place in which the Umberleigh Home Guard would defend the village against an attack from the regular army. The whole village turned out to see `The Battle’! I remember, in particular, two incidents from this event. The local railway station was being defended by the Home Guard and a regular sergeant shouted down to them, “We have fired fifty rounds into the station and nobody’s dead yet!” In another incident the vicar who was the hand grenade carried (for the exercise her had model hand grenades made of wood) rushed out to attack the invading force and was shot `dead’.
Who was the eventual winner, and if Umberleigh was successfully defended we never discovered but it provided a great spectacle for the local population.

I also remember sweet rationing and finding it hard to imagine how, when rationing was over, it would be possible to walk into a shop and buy as many sweets as you wanted.

On a sadder note I remember one boy’s father was killed and lying awake in the dormitory listening to his sobbing and also how the elder brother of one of the boys at school was killed at sea and the headmaster telling us (obviously not in the boy’s presence) to be gentle with him.

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