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15 October 2014
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George's Memory of the Home Guard

by CSV Solent

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CSV Solent
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Civilian Force
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30 July 2005

George’s Memory of the Home Guard

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Shelagh on behalf of George Legg and has been added to the site with his permission. George fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was in a reserved occupation because I worked in Portsmouth docks as a driller. I was also in the Home Guard and was stationed at Alexander Park, North End on the rocket guns. The guns, which fired rockets, were in batches of four and we were given instructions for direction and elevation from a nearby command post. The rockets were in steel canisters with a shell at the end. When they were fired a huge flame came out of the end and there was turbulence and backdraft, which made our coats, flap and disturbed the surrounding area. When the gun was fired we were enveloped in a huge flame (a bit like you see when a NASA rocket goes up) and we were frightened to death the first time it happened!

The rocket cases were a problem as they came off the shell and fell to land in the city and caused damage. In the end we were instructed to only fire at planes that were flying over the sea. We got used to it and it was actually rumoured we may have hit a plane!

I was on duty every eighth day on the guns, this way we all took turns at the weekends. At weekends we also trained and I had to get permission to have time of work as we worked a seven-day week and twelve hours per day. We had to train with the guns and then go to classes in the Nissan huts to learn more about them. We were allowed a break in the canteen for a drink of tea and something to eat.

When we slept we had to sleep with our clothes on so that when the siren went off we were able to get up, put on our greatcoats and man the guns quickly. We also had to practise marching. I was twenty-two and some of the Home Guard were older, about sixty. We were an interesting group of marchers. I don’t think the Germans would have run away from us had they ever landed in Portsmouth!

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