If Britain had been invaded, the Home Guard’s duties would have included keeping roads open for the passage of counter-attack forces, securing RAF radar stations and other key points and assistance to the Civil Defence services. Yet very many fewer men volunteered than had been planned for; in Hertfordshire the picture was even worse than in the country as a whole.
Still, the new battalions organised training exercises, including one codenamed ‘Lumbago’ which drew unfavourable comment in the national press as a seeming jibe at the men ‘past the first bloom of youth’ who were the main targets of recruitment drives. In other exercises ‘major battles’ were fought near Sandridge and Codicote, with the role of the enemy being played by army cadets.
Ultimately, though, it made sense to reduce the force to ‘cadre’ battalions – slimmed-down frameworks which would be ready to absorb large numbers of men if and when the crisis came.
As he had back in 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill took a close personal interest in the Home Guard and frequently voiced his support for their role in the defence of Britain. Indeed, it was only when he stepped down in 1955 that the Home Guard’s raison d’être could be openly questioned: within two years it had been disbanded.
This is the first properly researched account of the post-war Home Guard in any county and it also incorporates very full details of the national picture. An appendix details the weapons used by the force, and all commissioned officers in the Hertfordshire battalions are also listed.