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15 October 2014
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A Rare Bird: Service with the 7th Battalion Hertfordshire Home Guard

by The Fernhurst Centre

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The Fernhurst Centre
People in story: 
Elizabeth Johnston
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Contributed on: 
24 June 2004

7th Battalion of the Hertfordshire Home Guard - 1944 - Elizabeth Johnston (nee Bunker) second from right

This is Elizabeth Johnston’s story: it has been added by Pauline Colcutt (on behalf of the Fernhurst Centre), with permission from the author who understands the terms and conditions of adding her story to the website.

I was 18 years’ old and waiting to go into the Wrens — but I was a telephonist with the GPO and as this was a reserved occupation this was not to be. I therefore ended up in the Home Guard (which was unusual as the Home Guard was normally made up solely of men). I was, in fact one of four chosen from the Rangers (part of the Girl Guide movement) to assist the Home Guard (the 7th Battalion of the Hertfordshire Home Guard). This was from 25 October 1943 until 3 December 1944 and I still have the Home Guard Badge that we were given to wear.

I was assigned to the Signals section of the movement to assist the Home Guard — as I worked long hours for the GPO my duties with the Home Guard were in the evening after work. During this time we met in Berkhamsted and we learnt Morse code and other signalling. We used field telephones and eventually at the end we had walkie-talkies but we hardly had time to use them before we closed down. We used to go up on the common for manoeuvres — although we were doing signalling we very rarely got a signal from anyone!! We used to travel by bike although one or two of the men in the Home Guard had cars — one was a taxi driver and another was in the AA and would give us a lift on his motorbike. It was fairly lighthearted — but I think that we were being set up for D-Day to take messages. Prior to D-Day we did have to spend one night in the Town Hall and the men from the Home Guard brought us camp beds — we were not supposed to go to sleep (and we didn’t). However, no messages were forthcoming (and we were not sure that our walkie-talkies worked anyway!!).

At the end of the war we each received a letter from the Secretary of State for War on behalf of King George VI. We also received a letter from the Lieutenant Colonel who was the Commander of the 7th Battalion of the Hertfordshire Home Guard.

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