Memories of the Home Guard
If you lived in the UK during the '60s you will probably have been aware, first-hand, of the famous BBC weekly sitcom "Dad's Army" in which a disparate group of well meaning but sadly hapless and sometimes inept, Local Defence Volunteers (Home Guard) would demonstrate their likely hopelessness should ever Britain's mainland have been invaded during WW2. Amusing as the programme was, the rightful seriousness of their antics shouldn't be forgotten.
How close to reality was the depiction of the Home Guard in the BBC series 'Dad's Army'?
The writer Jimmy Perry based the idea of "Dad's Army" on his own experiences having joined an Home Guard group when he was 16. And I am sure that there are still many who can recall such experiences today. But here I mention a few anecdotes my father mentioned about his time in this force where he rose to the rank of Corporal.
Early in the War my father attended the "Call-Up" at which he was asked what work he did. Designing buses he replied. This was very fortunate for him as he was refused the "call-up" and was sent off to design armoured vehicles. So he, like many others who were similarly placed, joined the Local Defence Volunteers, otherwise known as the Home Guard or more affectionately "Dad's Army".
The most senior ranks were always looking for ways to increase the expertise and knowledge of the LDV, so as my father was a draughtsman, it was quite clear to the upper echelons that he must be an expert in map reading. My father was given the task of presenting a map-reading course to the group having never read a map in his life. He said that being clueless made the traumatic experience all the more worse.
A major job of the Twickenham (West London) Branch of the LDV was to guard Mogden, the local sewerage works. Day and night guard members took the rota. The stench was appalling, especially on the warmer evenings when the aroma was more positive. My father always wondered why the enemy might wish to attack the sewerage works. He thought he knew!
Whilst this is amusing, many of these volunteers spent their time on essential and oft hazardous work such as unexploded bomb disposal. Over 1200 LDVs were killed and 550 wounded carrying out their duties. Let us not forget the bravery of those who fought for the Country and our freedom and for those who were injured and those who paid the ultimate price.