Post by Dave Homewood on Aug 3, 2008 19:05:06 GMT 12
Several well known people served in the British Home Guard in WWII. I have a short list and wonder if you can add any others.
The obvious ones: Jimmy Perry (Barnes Home Guard, then Watford Home Guard) John Laurie (Paddington Home Guard) Arnold Ridley (Caterham Home Guard)
Other Actors Sir Peter Ustinov (not sure which unit) George Formby (Blackpool HG, Cpl Despatch Rider) Nicholas Parsons (BBC reporter and game show host)
Authors, Artists And Illustrators Lewis Corina (Author, a Halifax HG unit I believe) Norman Longmate (Author and Historian, 'F' Company, 3rd Sussex (Horsham) Home Guard) E.H. Shepherd (Winnie the Pooh illustrator)
Scientists Sir Patrick Moore (Astronomer) Lewis Nicholson (Scientist, later chief scientist to RAF) Gerald Norden (Artist)
Others Raymond Postgate (later a food critic) Sir Montague Burton (famous taylor and inventor of the Full Monty suit)
I think that J.B. Priestley and H.G. Wells were in the HG too but am not certain. Anyone know of others who served? Or famous people who served in the HG in other countries?
I dont know who he is but obviously quite distinguished... if he and the Queen swapped stoires on Dad's Army! ;D
Dad's Army anniversary will spark memories for Scots general Sir Michael Gow Aug 2 2008 By Lisa Adams
HE started as a hero of the home front, but it fired a lifelong determination to fight for freedom.
General Sir Michael Gow will be glued to his TV screen tonight as a weekend of special programmes to mark the 40th anniversary of the first episode of hit show Dad's Army kicks off.
The BBC classic, which ran from 1968 to 1977, attracting audiences of up to 18million, was a comic take on the real-life Home Guard - more than 1,400,000 men who signed to defend Britain against invasion in the Second World War.
A 15-year-old schoolboy when he signed up for the Home Guard, Sir Michael, of Edinburgh, who became GOC for Scotland, was the Army's most senior General when he retired in 1986. And his love for Dad's Army has even attracted royal attention.
Sir Michael, 84, says: "Dad's Army is actually my favourite television programme.
[glow=red,2,300]"I love it I remember chatting to the Queen Mother and somehow we got on to the war. I said, 'Your Majesty, my favourite programme is Dad's Army.' She said, 'Isn't that funny, so is mine.' "She asked who did I like best? I said I thought Captain Mainwaring was marvellous. She said she liked Frazer because he was a Scot. We talked for ages about Dad's Army.
"She knew more about it than I did[/glow]And the show was inspired by real life characters. Catchphrases like "Don't panic!", "Stupid Boy", "We're Doomed!" and "Permission to speak, Sir" were spot on. As fools like Private Pike and Frazer struggled on screen to tell one end of a rifle from the other, the generation who had served in the Home Guard nodded in recognition.
They perfectly recreated the atmosphere in the summer of 1940 after a radio broadcast by the Secretary of State for War, Anthony Eden appealed to men of all ages to defend their country against Hitler.
The official age limit was meant to run between 17 and 65, but so keen were some to defend our shores that old soldiers, well into their 80s, who had served in the Sudan conflict in 1884 eagerly joined to train with real live ammunition and hand grenades - just like Godfrey in Dad's Army.
Sir Michael said: "A drill sergeant from the Scots Guards was sent to London to put chaps through their paces.
"There was one old man in particular who was absolutely hopeless. The drill sergeant barked: 'Well, Sir, you'll never make a soldier.' The guy replied: 'Sir, I was a General in the last war.'"
But like so many of his generation, the war years were tinged with sadness for Sir Michael. Just months after signing up with the Home Guard platoon, based at his boarding school in Winchester, he received devastating news from home. His stepfather, Alastair Sanderson, a member of the Seaforth Highlanders, had been killed just before Dunkirk.
It strengthened Sir Michael's resolve to shine during Home Guard training sessions on the school playing fields.
Rapidly promoted to Sergeant, he led training with live ammunition as well as gruelling 15-mile marches.
Dressed in a blue beret with the school crest and battle dress he delighted in beating his older and less fit school teachers who were also members of the 40-strong platoon.
Sir Michael says: "I hoped they would look forward to responding to the whiplash of my commands.
"I was a fit teenager, but some of the school masters who went on forced marches were absolutely exhausted. They kept saying can we stop please and I'd say, 'no, of course not, let's keep going.' "But it was a serious business setting up the platoon because there was the real threat of invasion. Most home guard platoons had very old rifles.
"A lot of rifles sent over from America were extremely out of date.
We did a lot of shooting and a lot of marching as well as map reading and lessons on wireless operating."
Anxious to do his bit, Sir Michael enlisted in the Scots Guards with the third tank battalion at 18 straight from school and served in Europe.
But his world collapsed with news that his big brother, Captain Roddy Gow was missing in action and believed to be a prisoner of war.
On Sir Michael's 21st birthday at a war cemetery in Arnhem, Belguim, he finally learned the truth.
Sir Michael says: "I went to the cemetery and the first grave I saw was his. That was on my 21st birthday. When people ask what did you do on your 21st, that's what I did.
"He was 24 when he died. He was more than my brother, he was my best friend."
At the end of the war, when Sir Michael arrived at Belsen concentration camp with the battalion's second in command, Willie Whitelaw - the man who would go on to become Tory Home Secretary - all his sacrifices suddenly made sense.
Sir Michael says: "It's something I will never ever forget.
"There were three layers of people in the bunks, the dead, the dying and those who had survived.
I remember saying to Willie Whitelaw, now we know why we fought this war. We were fighting evil."
Sir Michael married months after the war ended and had five children, 13 grandkids as well as three great grandchildren.