THE THREE INTRODUCTION PAGES
   1. THE START OF WORLD WAR II (first page - useful background)
2. THE DEFENCE OF GREAT BRITAIN'S POPULATION (previous page - more useful background)
3. THE HOME GUARD AND THE 32nd (ALDRIDGE) BATTALION (this page - and essential!)

This is a page within the www.staffshomeguard.co.uk website. To see full contents, go to SITE MAP.

 INTRODUCTION (3)

THE HOME GUARD and
THE 32ND (ALDRIDGE) BATTALION

  containing
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO THE HOME GUARD AND THE 32nd (ALDRIDGE) BATTN.
 - 
BACKGROUND TO THIS WEBSITE and THE BOOK "HOME GUARDING"
 - HOW TO FIND YOUR WAY AROUND WITHIN THE SITE
  

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO THE HOME GUARD
AND TO THE 32nd (ALDRIDGE) BATTALION

   In the early summer of 1940 as the German Army poured out over its western borders the threat to Great Britain was increasing by the day and was plain for all to see. As Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg and France reeled under the onslaught it was becoming clear that in a matter of weeks if not days the country would be alone, the only nation in Europe still trying to oppose a miltary machine which appeared invincible. As the looming threat grew ever greater, so did the defiance of the British people and their eagerness to be doing something positive to meet the challenge. 

During the evening of Tuesday May 14th whilst desperate fighting was going on in Holland, Belgium and France, the Secretary of State for War, Anthony Eden, broadcast an appeal for men of 17 to 65 to form a new force, known as the Local Defence Volunteers. The details of this force's responsibilities remained vague in Eden's speech. But with the emphasis on the way in which the Germans had made their attack on Holland and Belgium, using mass landing by parachute troops, the inference was clear: the LDV's main function would be to counter this threat by the guarding of factories and strategic points like railways, canals and road junctions; and to act as the eyes and ears of the military in their area, by detecting the landing by sea or air of any units of German troops who might appear. Behind the scenes fierce debate raged about the precise scope of the new force's responsibilities and its relationship with the Regular Army and other agencies. These would evolve over the coming weeks, greatly influenced by the opinions of Churchill and effective lobbying by LDV members who saw themselves potentially as a more aggressive and heavily armed force than the War Office and others might prefer.

Meanwhile the response to Edenís appeal was overwhelming and the Home Guard was effectively born on that Tuesday evening. Within minutes police stations were besieged by men demanding enrolment forms. By the end of Wednesday 250,000 volunteers had put their name forward; by the end of the month, three-quarters of a million. And the numbers continued to grow thereafter, to an eventual peak of over 1.7 million. Churchillís inspiration soon led to a change of name from L.D.V. (sometimes irreverently know as "Look, Duck and Vanish", "Last Desperate Venture" or "Long-Dentured Veterans") to the "Home Guard", a name it retained throughout its life. (The nickname of "Dadís Army" entered the public consciousness in the 1960/70s with the appearance of the BBC TV programme, a comic but essentially affectionate caricature of the organisation.)

That day in May saw the birth of the 32nd (Aldridge) Battalion too, or at least the formations from which it quickly evolved.  The history of the Battalion's active service which would last almost to the end of the war in Europe is a reflection of that of the Home Guard as a whole and to relate either story here in this Introduction would be to anticipate much of what is contained elsewhere in the website. (The Battalion's history is well covered by the book "Home Guarding" which is mentioned below. And key dates in the life of the Home Guard are listed on the TIMELINE page).

After four-and-a-half years of continuous activity an announcement was made in November 1944 that the Home Guard as a whole was to be "stood down" since all risk of invasion and incursion had finally disappeared.  By that time two George Crosses had been won and 13 George Medals; and 1206 members had been killed whilst on active service with a further 557 seriously injured. The Home Guard had indeed been a serious affair.

 

BACKGROUND TO THIS WEBSITE and THE BOOK "HOME GUARDING"

When it all came to an end, members of the 32nd Battalion immediately resolved to write a record of their activities over the preceding years and to publish it in a booklet for posterity.   The job of compiling and editing the various individual efforts fell to Captain Frank H. Timings who also provided a number of delightful sketches.  The booklet was entitled:

Home Guarding
      by The 32nd (Aldridge) Battalion South Staffordshire Home Guard

and was published in 1945 and printed by Walsall Lithographic Co., Ltd., Midland Road, Walsall.

Within, it bore the following dedication:

This little volume is 
DEDICATED 
to 
LIEUT.-COL. CHARLES CARTWRIGHT D.S.O., M.C. 
by 
MEMBERS OF THE 32nd (ALDRIDGE) BN. SOUTH STAFFS. HOME GUARD 

in Grateful Appreciation of his Inspiring Leadership
as Commanding Officer

 

A copy of this publication now resides in the Imperial War Museum and there are no doubt others still tucked away in bookcases in the area and beyond, as is the Webmaster's own.

The booklet was the inspiration for this website and it is reproduced here in its entirety. The story it tells is that of this battalion with its local preoccupations; but equally it is the story of many such units up and down the country, information on which has been added to the site as it evolves. And so, whilst it is likely to be of the most interest to those living in the area concerned and knowing the places and perhaps even some of the individuals or their families, it may also offer something to others who are interested in the Home Guard as a whole and in what it was like to live in those tumultuous times.

There is a lot of text which requires some patience and perseverance to absorb; but the visitor may well find the effort worthwhile. Here is some guidance on:

HOW TO FIND YOUR WAY AROUND WITHIN THE SITE

(Go to Site Map for a complete index of site contents)

GENERAL PAGES

Within this section you will find much general information on the Home Guard, including:
Establishment of HG - HG Timeline - Financial Cost - Reenactment Groups - Searching for HG members - Structure info (link) - Typical HQ locations - Eden's Address - War Office Messages - Nazi Attitude - Stand-Down Parade - H.M. the King's Stand-Down Message. (And others: please check the full, current list via Site Map.)
There is also a useful Links and Further Reading page.

THE 32nd (ALDRIDGE) BATTALION PAGES

In this section is all the information about this Battalion. A few pointers:

FINDING SURNAMES AND PLACE NAMES

An INDEX of surnames and place names is included which lists all those references both within "Home Guarding" and in other sections of the site which relate to the 32nd Battalion. Some BIOGRAPHICAL information is also recorded elsewhere on the site, again specific to the Battalion. And there is a complete LIST OF OFFICERS serving with the Battalion in February 1941.

THE "HOME GUARDING" BOOK (32nd Battalion)


MEMORIES and INFORMATION
Go to this section for memories and further information concerning the Battalion and life in the area at that time.

 

OTHER HOME GUARD UNITS PAGES

These MEMORIES and INFORMATION pages cover personal reminiscences of, and other information about:    

     - units in individual West Midlands counties (Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire        and Worcestershire)
     - units in many other counties and regions throughout the United Kingdom
    

The MEMORIES and INFORMATION sections include information generously provided by visitors to the site. The Webmaster is regularly expanding them and would welcome further information, especially about the 32nd (Aldridge) Battalion and its individual members, but also relating to any other HG unit - from visitorsí personal experience, knowledge and records.

You may have information you feel might be of interest to others. You may wish to take the opportunity of commemorating a father, an uncle or a grandfather............  If so, please contact us.

 

In such a case, or if you wish to comment confidentially about the site for any other reason, please use FEEDBACK.  Nothing will appear on the site without your further, explicit approval. Previously published VISITORS' MESSAGES can be viewed here.

 

**********

 

Thank you for reading this introduction.  Now please enjoy the rest of the site and join the Webmaster in humble admiration at the energy, determination, bravery, skill, humour, patriotism, team spirit and sheer bloody-minded defiance of those who in the face of a terrifying threat helped to defend this and every other area throughout the country - our very own Dadís Army.


DEDICATION

TO THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF MEN who if circumstances demanded it were prepared to face the ultimate test and who devoted all of their spare time and energy, night after night, weekend after weekend, year after year, to the defence of their area - at the same time as holding down demanding jobs during the day and continuing somehow to care for their families -
and
TO THE WOMEN who loyally supported them,

TO OUR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS in factÖÖ..

THIS WEBSITE IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

 

Please now go either to the overall Site Map or to the Contents page of the "Home Guarding" book.