Posted: 14th July 2021
Welcome to part one of ‘North Lincolnshire on the Home Front in World War Two’ focussing on the Home Guard. This blog series will focus on how different villages and cities of North Lincolnshire operated on the Home Front of the Second World War.
We would like to thank the source providers and individuals who have shared their stories on the Home Front. Without them, the experiences of the Home Front would not have been possible to share with North Lincolnshire and its citizens.
While many men were sent overseas to fight the Axis side of the war, many Lincolnshire residents remained home. This was so the people who did remain at home were able to keep supporting their businesses, to protect their homes in case of enemy invasions and to support the troops on the battlefront. Many different organisations were formed on the Home Front such as the women organised WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) and the Home Guard. It can be easily argued that the Home Front was just as important as the battlefront. Without the support from home, troops would have not had sufficient ammunition, vehicles such as tanks sent to them and gifts from home to boost morale.
What is the Home Guard?
Anyone who is familiar with the series Dad’s Army will recognise the term the ‘Home Guard’. The Home Guard was a chosen selection of individuals (men and women) who could not actively give their efforts on the battlefront. They normally consisted of teenage boys, veterans who fought in World War One, men considered too old to fight and those who have jobs which are deemed too important to leave (such as a butchers). Women too would participate in the Home Guard as they were not allowed to go to war and had to take over the jobs of the men who were fighting abroad.
What did the Home Guard do?
The Home Guard were assigned to perform various jobs on the Home Front. The Home Guard were responsible for operating emergency defences in order to prevent an enemy attack. They would normally establish roadblocks to prevent enemy vehicles entering the village and intercept airborne forces if they were to land. They would also provide inland defences with their given weaponry in order to protect ammunition and steelwork factories and ports which were used to transport valuables overseas (Osborune,2010, pp.208-209). Alongside this, the Home Guard also helped with local businesses, provided assistance during air raids and helped the emergency services.
In order to protect the Home Front, the Home Guard were equipped with a variety of weapons to help defend their chosen sectors. The Northover Projector for example was a drainpipe on legs which allowed Molotov Cocktails to be shot at a good distance. The Smith Gun was one of the guns they used, a 3in smooth bore cannon and they also used a Spigot Mortar which could throw an anti-tank bomb a couple of hundred yards. The weapons that the Home Guard used was mainly for defence and not for immediate attack as they aimed to either capture or scare away opponents. Killing them was only if it was necessary. The Home Guard were also equipped with professional medical kits to patch up the wounded and wore sashes and bands, so people were able to properly distinguish them between others.
Here is an example of the Home Guard in… Lincolnshire in 1944:
Here are also some pictures which show what the Home Guard used to use while protecting the Home Front:
A grenade that the Home guard would use for a Molotov cocktail: in two pieces, with the grenade now separate from the glass bulb which would have held the ‘cocktail.’
Researched and written by William Cragg, History Student while completing a placement.
Part 2 will follow soon.