The Home Guard & The Club History
Background of The Home Guard
The Home Guard was formed in May 1940 in response to the expected invasion of the United Kingdom by German armed forces, in particular airborne troops.
Originally called the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), the Home Secretary at the time, Anthony Eden, broadcast nationally on 14th May 1940 calling for volunteers for the new organisation to give their names in at their local police station. Within seven days, over 250,000 Volunteers had stepped forward.
As with the Volunteer Training Corps formed for Home Defence at the start of WW1, the War Office would not permit the LDV to use military ranks and the leadership element of the organisation automatically projected itself from veterans of previous conflicts, industrial management and natural leaders. A Land Defence Volunteer armband was worn in order to allow the volunteers to carry out their duties with some legal standing, but the issue of sufficient weaponry and uniforms was still some months away.
On 22nd July 1940 and at the insistence of the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the LDV became the Home Guard.
The Role of the Home Guard
As with any home defence organisation, the Home Guard had an advantage over the enemy in that it was familiar with the towns, villages, industrial complexes and public services that it would be defending whereas the enemy forces would not.
Initially the plan was that this lightly armed force would simply guard key points such as public service utilities, transport links and centres of communication, all essential to the war effort of the United Kingdom. Should there be a full scale invasion, then the Home Guard would face the enemy in whatever form and take its chances with other combat formations in the defence of the United Kingdom.
In the event, the Home Guard had to adapt and take on new roles as the war progressed including anti-aircraft and searchlight operations, prisoner escorts and assistance to the civil defence organisations.
Home Guard Volunteers
Generally speaking, volunteers for the Home Guard would be aged between 17 and 65 and would be either medically downgraded for fulltime military service, employed in a reserve occupation or waiting to be called up for the regular services.
Home Guard duties were fitted in around the individual civilian occupation. Personal weapons, clothing and equipment were kept at home or at certain times of high emergency kept nearby in the work place.
These Battalions were organised in a similar way to standard infantry of which the smallest operational sub unit was the platoon, whereas Battalion and company headquarters were based in larger premises such as vacated TA Drill Halls. The platoon tended to train and be administered in smaller accommodation such as church halls and work canteens – in fact anywhere that afforded space for training and office facilities for unit administration.
Women were informally invited to join the Home Guard in December 1941. By that date the scope and reach of the Home Guard had expanded to include transport, artillery and specialist units and there was a need for an administration and logistical backup similar to that provided by ATS to the Regular Army.
In 1942, with the threat of invasion passed, the National Service Act allowed for compulsory enrolment where units were falling below strength. The organisation now came under the control of the Regular Army and was integrated into the Regimental system. As well as manning Anti-Aircraft guns and rockets, plus costal defence artillery, the Home Guard was increasingly seen as a preliminary training ground for young men waiting to be called for regular service.
Source: Stepping Forward London
The History and Origins of the North Harrow Home Guard Club
The Home Guard Middlesex Regiment Commanding Officer was H. H. Maddocks M.C., of ‘A Company’ and the Regiment was stationed in a shop on the Pinner Road - this is now a hair salon, Pro Hair Style which is situated next to The Furniture Shop.
At the end of World War 2, as life returned to normal, the premises that had acted as the headquarters had to be returned to the owner and the Home Guard Regiment was disbanded. Each of the volunteers were given a bonus in the form of £10, which based on inflation rates would be equivalent to having the purchasing power of £410 today (source: CPI Inflation Calculator) and some of the volunteers united to form a club and using this £10 bonus payment, they purchased a hut and the North Harrow Home Guard Club was born on 6th December 1945.
This hut was situated behind the former Assembly Halls in Station Road North Harrow (this is area is currently being developed as a new Community Centre by the Battlers Wells Foundation). The Club house was intended as a temporary home for around five years but thirty years later was still in situ and had expanded to allow access to non-club members. However, the building was aging and it was increasingly difficult to keep it maintained and very hard to keep it heated.
An EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) was arranged with the purpose of approving an expenditure of £500 to install central heating, however this proposal was overturned by a further proposal by Gerry Nash to move the Club to a new building. In 1977, planning permission was sought and granted to build the new Club in our present site, and with the support of a few dedicated members, the construction was underway, however it was a further five years before the building work was complete.
The proud opening day of the new premises was 2nd August 1982 and a special event was planned for 5.30 pm and the Club was packed with members but unfortunately the Steward was taken ill meaning that the Committee Members had to step in and host the event.
From that proud opening date it took a further ten years to improve the interior to provide all the facilities that are available for members and their guests today. Continual work is carried out on the maintenance of the building and the grounds and even in the past year with the 'Lockdowns' redecorations have taken place to ensure the Club is kept up to the standards that many have enjoyed over the years, and we hope in years to come.
Club history facts were compiled by Peter Edwards, Club President and supplied by Mr Chris Burgess, member no. 282, now sadly deceased.