British Home Guard and the Second World War.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.
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What would the Home Guard have done if Hitler had invaded?
During the summer of 1940, British industry had done an amazing job of turning to the production of weapons and equipment for the regular forces – they still had a way to go, but they were getting there. Even the Home Guard were now receiving weapons from the US – perhaps only one rifle between three men, but there were Molotov petrol bombs and a variety of other homemade weapons as well. The Home Guard's job was simple: as well as sending information, they were to hold up the enemy as long as possible.
Last surviving member of the Home Guard reveals what it was like being in the real life Dad's Army
For many of us, watching re-runs of Dad`s Army is nostalgic – not to mention funny – but for Peter Blackburn, the show brings more than just laughs. As the last surviving member of the Pulham Market Home Guard, there`s no one more qualified to talk about what it was like to be in the real-life Dad`s Army. "I signed up to the Home Guard in the British Army as soon as I turned 17, and two days later, I was on my first training mission. Truthfully, I really wanted to get into the Guard because I always loved shooting."
The British Resistance: Auxiliary Units (WW2 Podcast)
By the end of June 1940 the Battle of France was over, the British Army had been plucked from the Beaches of Dunkirk, but much of its heavy equipment had been abandoned in France. It looked like Britain would be the next target for the Nazi war machine. On the 14th of May 1940 Anthony Eden had called on men in Britain who were not in military service but wished to defend their country to enrol in the Local Defence Volunteers. Another group was also created, a clandestine army that in the event of invasion would be called upon. Britain would be the first nation to have a pre-planed resistance network, the went under the unassuming name of Auxiliary, or Aux Units.
Mum`s army: the forgotten role of women in the Home Guard
The new Dad`s Army film is a celebration of two historic British institutions: the WWII Home Guard that played a key role in Britain`s defence, and the TV sitcom that ran from 1968-1977. While the show followed Captain Mainwaring and his ageing band of brothers, women didn`t much feature. With the new cinematic offering, there are now some women in the frame. The reviews aren`t great, but I am looking forward to seeing a better balance of genders in the film. Mainwaring`s wife, Elizabeth, was often heard of but never seen in the TV series. In the film, she steps onscreen, leading local women from the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). But women were not just consigned to services such as the ATS. In fact, many played a role in the Home Guard, despite the fact that they weren`t strictly supposed to. Yes, there was a mum`s army too.
The Real Dad's Army: The War Diaries of Col. Rodney Foster by Rodney Foster (book review)
Often cited as the funniest TV sitcom ever made, Dad's Army has so seeped into British national consciousness that it's acquired the status of history. The reality has been more or less lost - until now, with the publication of the diaries of a real-life Mainwaring, Colonel Rodney Foster. Discovered at an Exeter car boot sale and sold on eBay, the diaries are a day-by-day contemporary account of life as a Home Guard platoon commander, probably the only one we'll ever have, since for security reasons keeping them was a highly illegal act.
The British Resistance: The true story of the secret guerilla army of farmworkers trained to defy the Nazis in a suicidal last stand
You can see 11 English and Welsh counties and the Bristol Channel from this ridge. No wonder the men of "Jonah" Patrol of 202 Battalion, Home Guard had their base up here. Their accommodation was less spectacular, though. Six men would have squeezed into a damp chamber six feet below the forest floor. But the occupants would not have had to put up with it for long once it became operational, because their life expectancy was less than a fortnight. These were the men of the Auxiliary Units, volunteers equipped with some of the most dangerous weaponry available. In the event of a Nazi invasion, they were to melt away from their civilian jobs to activate OBs (operational bases) and sabotage enemy installations for as long as possible before detection and inevitable death.
Secret WWII bunker, used by Churchill's Secret Army, opened to public near Cardiff
While the role of the British Home Guard is well-known, very little is known of their counterparts in the Auxiliary Units - Britain's last line of defence. The units, called "Churchill's Secret Army", were set up to monitor enemy movements and help mount counter-attacks in case of a Nazi-occupation. Now Forestry Commission Wales has discovered a bunker which would have provided a secret hideout. The concrete bunker - located in the Coed Coesau-Whips Woodland near Rudry - has been restored to look as it would have done in wartime, with the help of historians from the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART), and a newspaper appeal for secrets held amongst locals.
Letters reveal a real Dad's Army - The Home Guard papers published online
The 2010 summer marks 70 years since the formation of the Local Defence Volunteers - renamed the Home Guard in July 1940. Starting out as groups of badly equipped but enthusiastic men, the group was trained to combat a Nazi invasion. Hand-written and typed papers held by the North Highland Archive (published on Highland Council's Am Baile website) reveal Dad's Army-like scenarios in Highland Home Guard units: Top brass warned that not all airmen found to have landed were the enemy after treatment given to a British pilot. Also revealed, are the words suspected Nazi spies were to be asked to repeat because they were considered difficult for Germans to pronounce.
Churchill's Underground Army: A History of the Auxiliary Units in World War II (Article no longer available from the original source)
What if the Battle of Britain had been lost? What if Third Reich had invaded and annexed British shores? John Warwicker, the author of Churchill's Underground Army, has patiently and tenaciously dug up the facts. On the home front, in 1940, people thought the Home Guard was the last line of defence against the Nazis. But, unknown to all but a handful of our war leaders, set up behind that line and operating under cover of secrecy were the men of the Auxiliary Units, AKA auxiliers. Recruited in mid-1940, they were trained to kill and destroy the enemy in the event of Nazi occupation.
Baffled by a bunker - A secret command centre for the Home Guard?
Historians and archaeologists have been left baffled by a unique WW2 relic in Shooters Hill that might have been a secret command centre for UK forces. The area was a significant defensive outpost for the Home Guard and the focus of a Time Team investigation. But the archaeologists were unable to solve the mystery of an elaborate underground air raid shelter that spreads across two back gardens in Ashridge Crescent. Responses have helped shed some light on the structure's use, but experts still do not know if it was one used for official reasons, such as a communication centre for the Home Guard.
Quirky account of life as a World War II Home Guard
Sharpening pencils at both ends, drilling forward rolls to precent dizziness in combat and drinking tea to lessen the effects of a gas attack - like an episode of Dad's Army. But to Private Thomas Harper, a member of the Home Guard during the days when a Nazi invasion was a real danger, anything that could repel the enemy was important. Aged 31 when World War II broke out and not able to join the Army, he was determined to do his bit for King and Country. His anti-invasion skills were never put to the test, but a detailed handwritten record of his service showed he was ready if the Germans had ever rolled into Derby.
Mums with guns were ready for the Nazis - The Home Guard
Women were so prominent in protecting Britain's shores against invasion that they were required to sign papers showing they understood that they could be shot as guerrillas if the Germans captured them. After 1940, no woman was allowed to wear uniform but they demanded to be allowed to bear arms against the invader. "They had to make it clear that they understood that the Germans, if they captured armed defenders not in uniform, were entitled to shoot them. They either had to sign the paper or resign from the Home Guard." The female contribution has been underplayed by the few previous histories of the Home Guard.
Britain’s poor WWII defence: Nazi boat revealed Dad’s Army chaos (Article no longer available from the original source)
A 2-week delay in reporting a German dinghy washed up on the English coast in 1941 reveals a picture of Dad’s Army incompetence in Britain’s wartime defences. The 11-foot long rubber dingy, rowlocks stamped with a Nazi swastika, was found on the shore at Selsey. Was it just a piece of Nazi flotsam or had it been used to land enemy agents? But it was nearly the end of the month before the coastguard rang the Air Ministry. The local police chief was furious: "From the security point of view... The fact that a German boat can ground on this coast without information reaching either the police or the military for over two weeks is somewhat alarming."