Film ID: YFA 1214 Video of YFA 1214 Formation of The Homeguard, Thornton, Bradford 1939-1945 FORMATION OF THE HOMEGUARD, THORNTON, BRADFORD 1939-1945 Visitor TabsDescription This film was made by an amateur filmmaker and member of the Bradford Cine Circle. It uses intertitles throughout to explain the purpose of the Home Guard and how they came into existence. The Home Guard was originally known as the Local Defence Volunteers and eventually took a much more active defence role during World War II. Intertitle ‘L.D.V. 1940-1944’. The letters stand for Local Defence Volunteers, later to be known as the Home Guard; there was a nickname for these initials – ‘Look, Duck and Vanish’ as, at the outset, the unit were not expected to take part in fighting, but keep watch in their local areas for enemy invasion. Intertitle ‘”A” Thornton Company’. In a living room, a middle-aged couple are sitting down; he is reading a paper, whilst she sews. ‘May 14th 1940. The Crisis’. He is reading the Picture Post: a picture of Winston Churchill is on the front. When he opens it, there is an article entitled ‘Invasion’. Intertitle ‘The Germans Invade Belgium’. The paper shows pictures of the country. Intertitle ‘France’. More pages are turned; a photo shows one of Hitler’s mass rallies. Intertitle ‘The Dutch Royal Family Flee to England’. The man gets up and turns on the radio, and the couple listen. Intertitle ‘The 9pm News. Stand by for a special announcement.’ A man is seen making a speech; the intertitles explain the gist of the speech. Intertitle ‘We want men between the ages of 16 and 65 to come forward & offer their services now 'The name of the new force will be The Local Defence Volunteers.’. The man in his living room then stands up. Intertitle ‘This is something I can do’. Outside, he boards a double-decker bus and goes into a town centre. He walks down a street and enters a police station to sign up. Forms are filled in. Intertitle ‘The bell of this peaceful Church is the signal for invasion’. The church is shown. Intertitle ‘Major Fenton appoints Coy. Commanders’. In a room, two men talk and look at a map of the Bradford area. One of the men then goes into a chemist. Interior shots show him in a living room, talking to the chemist; they look at papers. Intermittently, the chemist goes into the shop to serve customers, before they carry on their discussion. They leave the shop together and get into a car. Intertitle ‘Capt. Durrant meets his Platoon Commanders’. The men go to another man’s house, and start to form a small company, who can be part of the LDV. Intertitle ‘The first Coy. Meeting’. Many men in overcoats and hats meet outside a house. Intertitle ‘Lack of equipment does not damp our enthusiasm’. Outside a redbrick warehouse, the men in their overcoats and hats line up. They hold wooden rifles, and start to do drill. A man instructs them. They wear the LDV armband. As they get into line, the leader shows them the correct way to hold their rifles and stand to attention, after this they march in lines. Intertitle ‘Patrols are sent out, & Observation Posts manned’. In the open countryside, the men, still in plain clothes, start patrolling the hills; they hold their wooden rifles scanning the land, sometimes constructing hiding places by building small slate bunkers. Back on the road, two men walk to a stone fence, one holds a proper rifle, and they scan the area. Intertitle ‘The first issue of Rifles’. Wooden boxes are carried out of a building by two men. They open them up and take out rifles from America. Other men come out of a building with their new guns. On the rooftop of the building, they talk; the town’s buildings and chimneys can be seen in the background. Intertitle ‘The order is to Stop All Traffic’. Home Guards are seen stopping a fire engine. Fire Brigade officers come out and talk to the Home Guard. A man in military uniform pulls up on a motorcycle and shows a member of the LDV his papers; the fire engine then pulls off. Two members of the LDV exit a public house named the White Horse Inn; more scenes then show them in groups of two walking down countryside lanes. In a quick succession of scenes, the Home Guard defend various areas. Intertitle ‘The Isolation Hospital Post’. A man on a bike pulls up to the hospital gate, shows the man guarding a pass, and enters. Intertitle ‘The Farrars Quarry Post’ shows a stone building. Intertitle ‘The Snape House Post’ members of the LDV stand in a group outside a house, whilst one gives them instructions; some walk off with rifles at their shoulders. From this post, much of the surrounding countryside can be seen as it is on a ridge. In a group, the men sit whilst being given a demonstration of how to use the rifles. Intertitle ‘Contact is made with The Observer Corps’. At a field a man enters a gate walking up to meet another member of the LDV. Intertitle ‘The DR Section is inspected by Mr W Downs’. In a room, a man is typing; outside a building, many of the LDV meet. Intertitle ‘LDV’. Intertitle ‘Badge with the initials HG’. The LDV has now officially changed its name to the Home Guard. A man in a uniform that is now much more like that of a regular soldier stands outside a building with his rifle, before marching off. The uniform signals that the Home Guard now have proper kit, and will be dressed in military clothes when on manoeuvres and exercises. Intertitle ‘Training’. Men enter the Home Guard School of Instruction. Intertitle ‘Mr Lying Load’. In a field, a man demonstrates different rifle techniques to some younger men. He shows them how to hold a rifle properly, as well as how to lie on the ground and aim the gun correctly. Intertitle ‘map reading at Storr Heights’. A member of the Home Guard inspects a map, looking up to relate it to the surrounding countryside and housed area. At a fence, a man stands to attention; there is a sign saying ‘Unexploded Bomb’. He protects the area before other members of the Guard arrive. Different conversations are had before they get to where the bomb is situated. Intertitle ‘Cadets and C.D. Wardens training under H.G. Instructors’. Young teenagers stand and are shown how a rifle works. They then write notes outside on paper pads. Outside a building, Civil Defence Wardens in their blue uniforms and berets stand in formation, holding rifles, and do various training exercises in front of their instructor. They copy his actions, and he goes up and corrects any wrong positioning. The instructor who first showed the middle aged men, at the start of the film, how to hold rifles and march, is now in uniform and demonstrates to the Civil Defence how to shoot with their rifles, before they go on to man a watch tower. In a large grass training area, firing practice commences. At one end, there is a ditch where members of the Guard man targets; at the other end of the field, the men lie on the ground, rifles at the ready; they fire their guns and reload. In a town, a bus awaits, as the Home Guard climb aboard to go on manoeuvres. Each carries their gas mask box and rifle. The bus takes them into the countryside towards Oxenhope for their exercises. They march through the countryside lanes before arriving at a camp where more firearms practice with machine guns is held on a firing range. An instructor oversees them. Men at the other side of the firing range point rise up cardboard targets for them to aim at. Intertitle ‘The high spot of the day’. Outside a public house called The Shoulder of Mutton, the men gather and pose before drinking pints of beer; they then walk off back to camp. Intertitle ‘Deep Lane Range’. Men in ditches practice throwing grenades, whilst others fire guns. One soldier takes apart rifles whilst others learn to use theirs to fire small rockets. The exercises continue with the Guard trying out the different ammunition now available to them. The men are in camouflage, with foliage on their helmets, and they practice hiding in bushes, and how to crawl on the ground without being seen. Intertitle ‘The Company Signallers’. A member of the Home Guard pulls up in a car in the countryside, gets out, and then sets about laying communication wires. A motorcycle transports different equipment around for the exercise such as radio transmitters, flags and reels of wire. Intertitle ‘HallaMoorRange’. A bus takes the Guard to another site that has bunkers and trenches for them to practice throwing grenades; others continue rifle practice, working together to fire rocket guns that explode bushes. Intertitle ‘De-fusing unexploded bombs’. Two men take different types of bombs out of casings before taking them apart, removing the fuse to make them safe. A Home Guard member holds a Harvey Flame Thrower; a huge amount of fire pours from it and burns grass in the surrounding area. Intertitle ‘The Company Explosive Store’. A door has the sign ‘Explosives Danger Keep Out’ on it. Intertitle ‘Demolition of unserviced ammunition’. Different ammunition is exploded in bunkers for safety; wires and fuses are used, so that they can be triggered from far away. Intertitle ‘Lt. Col. C.H. Hodgson Presents the Bn. Efficiency Cup to Major Brown’. Many members of the Home Guard are gathered whilst awards are given out. Intertitle ‘Lt. Col. C.H. Hodgson Presents Certificate of Merit to Sgt. J. Hargreaves’. A Home Guard member is given a Certificate. In a town, a brass band plays; the men are in kilts; they go down a street. Intertitle ‘The Company Medical Officer’. Members of the Home Guard stand around whilst a man explains how to bandage a wounded officer. After he is bandaged, they raise him up on a stretcher to carry him off. In an office, a member of the Guard is at a desk, talking on the telephone. He fills in some paperwork. Other Guards come and talk to him whilst looking at various forms and maps. Intertitle ‘A field day at Hollins’ Home Guard march across a road. They are wearing macs and carrying rifles. They go into a wooded area, where they then precede to cook food in large pots, before eating. Some look and smile at the camera. Intertitle ‘Any complaints?’ They continue to queue and eat their rations. A woman paints a poster that has the words ‘Bradford Edge The Gap Victory £300,000 : Salute the Soldier Week 10 to 17 June’. In town, bunting decorates the streets and a military parade takes place, led by a brass band. Intertitle ‘Bn. H.Q. introducing Lt. Col. C.H. Hodgson 7 Staff’. The Home Guard stand together chatting in a semi-circle in winter; snow is on the ground around them. Lt. Col. C.H. Hodgson salutes before a brass band leads a march of Home Guard down a country lane. Lt. Col. C.H. Hodgson salutes as they pass. Intertitle ‘Hard work brings its just reward’. Men gather, and silver cups are given to the different Home Guard companies; plaques and cups are placed on a small table. Intertitle ‘Ceremonial Parade of 3rd W.R.H.G. Manningham Park’. ‘A’ Thornton Coy. En route’. A procession goes down a road into the park; a brass band plays. Intertitle ‘Col. G.E.M. Whittuck M.C. A.D.C Presents Certificate of Merit awarded by G.O.C. Northern Command to Sgt. Holdsworth’. In the part, Sgt. Holdsworth accepts the award; members of the Home Guard are gathered around to watch. Intertitle ‘Takes the Salute’. A march goes down a street with various members of the Guard. The public have gathered to watch as they pass. Men stand in a wooded area looking at a map. The following words appear over them as the closing title: ‘Produced by ‘A’ Thornton Coy. Film Unit.’ Context Formation Of The Homeguard is one of many films held at the YFA relating to the Second World War. The film was made towards the end of the war in 1944. The parts that go back to the formation of the Home Guard in 1940 are reconstructions – as may be evidenced by the mirth which accompanies some scenes (which may reflect the easing of tension with the end of war in sight). Despite the absence of a commentary, the intertitles make much of the film self-explanatory, even though the Second World War may seem a dim and distant time to many younger people today. The YFA has other films showing the Homeguard, including Home Guard Manoeuvres, filmed in Sheffield in 1951. Some information on the background to the film has been supplied by Rob Brown, who was 10 at the time. Rob is the son of Major Brown who appears in the film and who succeeded Norbert Durrant as Commanding Officer of the Thornton Home Guard. Rob Brown has posted a fascinating story on the BBC People’s War Archive. In this he states that the film was made by Sgt Harold Whitehead (of Julius Whitehead & Sons, makers of pottery sanitary ware), an experienced amateur cine filmmaker and member of the Bradford Cine Circle. Rob’s father paid for the colour film. The film contains many interesting features of the time. At the beginning the couple in the film are reading Picture Post, which only begun publication in 1938, but which within months was selling over a million copies. Tom Hopkinson, who took over as editor in Britain in 1940, published a ‘Plan for Britain’ in 1941, a forerunner of the Beveridge Report, and, along with Bradford born J.B. Priestley, was involved in setting up the 1941 Committee, which also advocated state control of major industry and elements of a welfare state. However, the main source of information for most of the population at the time was the radio. On September 1st the BBC acted quickly to close its television service from Alexandra Palace, for fear of the German air force being able to use the television signals for direction finding. The National and Regional Programmes were replaced with one Home Service programme transmitted on two frequencies. In 1938 some 8.5 million licences were issued, and virtually everyone had access to a radio. Note how large the wireless is: in 1941 still only two-thirds of the population had mains electricity, so wirelesses had large batteries which needed recharging. The couple hear Anthony Eden, the then Minister of War – Churchill later reassigned him to the Foreign Office – make his national announcement on the radio on May 14th to establish Local Defence Volunteers (the film shows Eden speaking to a meeting, in daytime, when the announcement was at 9 pm. The film also quotes Eden as giving 16 as the lower age limit, when in fact he stated 17). From the day war was declared, 3rd September 1939, all men aged between 18 and 40 became legally liable for call-up, raised to 51 at the end of 1941. The impetus for setting up the LDV was the fact that people were spontaneously arming themselves, something the Government obviously wanted to control. The government had expected 150,000 volunteers in total, but within 24 hours of Anthony Eden's radio broadcast, 250,000 had joined. Within 6 weeks of the announcement by Eden, ten times more men had volunteered than the War Office had expected in total. By the end of May the total number of volunteers had risen to between 300,000 and 400,000, and by the end of the following month it exceeded 1,400,000 - around 1,200,000 more than anticipated. Churchill disallowed women from combat duty, although some MPs pushed for this (see Gardiner); but they could join the Civil Defence or Womens' Voluntary Service, and later the Womens Home Guard Auxiliaries for administrative duties. Edith Summerskill MP set up the unofficial, and illegal, Women's Home Defence League in 1940, which recruited 20,000 women and trained them to use arms (see Summerfield and Peniston-Bird). At first the facilities weren’t available to accommodate the number of volunteers; hence the civilian clothing and the wooden rifles in the first part of the film. To begin with the LDV were issued with 250,000 pikes - bayonets welded onto metal poles. The rifles unpacked on the film were probably a supply of 1917 pattern American "Springfield" rifles, with a .300 calibre, making them incompatible with the British service rifle, the .303 Lee Enfield Mk 4. Training too was absent at first. In the beginning there was little guidance from the War Office as to training, and it was left to each individual Home Guard to develop their own tactics that would be relevant to their own locality: resulting in members of the Home Guard being four times as likely to die in an accident during training than a regular soldier. In fact the first training was started by Tom Wintringham in June 1940. Born in Grimsby in 1898, Wintringham was heavily involved in the 1926 General Strike and fought in the Spanish Civil War. He passed on his knowledge of guerrilla fighting at a training base in Osterley Park, West London, before the army stepped in, setting up other training camps on similar lines. Churchill had the name changed to the Home Guard in July 1940. Most people today will associate the Home Guard with the TV comedy series Dad’s Army, set in 1942, written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft; Perry himself serving in the Home Guard. Although the comedy series portrays the HG as being somewhat incompetent, this film shows them to be a highly trained and professional outfit. One member of the Home Guard, Eddie North, interviewed for the ITV series The Way We Were, notes that the nickname of the LDV, ‘Look, Duck and Vanish’, was an appropriate one, as this was their instructions on spotting any German parachuters: to immediately report it without being seen. However, once the threat of a German invasion receded, after the Battle of Britain, the HG was seen less as a defence force than as helping out the other volunteer organisations in civil and war duties at home. One of these organisations, the Civil Defence Wardens, is shown in the film. Others, including the Womens' Voluntary Service, all worked together in fighting fires, clearing rubble, guarding damaged buildings, and assisting in rescue work. Women could join the Civil Defence or Womens' Voluntary Service – which had one million members by 1943 – and later the Women’s Home Guard Auxiliaries for administrative duties. There was also the Auxiliary Territorial Service, which by July 1942 had 217,000 women members. In April 1937, an Air Raid Wardens' Service was created. By the middle of 1938 about 200,000 people were involved, with another half a million enrolling during the Munich Crisis of September 1938. By the outbreak of war there were more than 1.5 million in the ARP (Air Raid Precautions), or Civil Defence as it was later re-named. However, Bradford itself was only bombed once, on 31 August 1940 (see Price, References). At its peak the HG had numbered 1,793,000, with 1,206 either killed on duty or dying from wounds. Four received posthumous awards, three for bravery – losing their lives – during grenade practice. The HG were finally dissolved in December 1944, when absenteeism was already high, although only officially disbanded the following December – the men being allowed to keep their battle dress and boots. Another organisation featured in the film are the "Kilties' Band", the bagpipes and drums of the Hazley Mansfield Pipe Band, who often accompanied the company on their long trek to Oxenhope (see Rob Brown). Rob Brown also informs us that one of the motorcycle riders in the film is none other than Allan Jefferies, who was a champion motorcyclist, and whose family set up a motorcycle shop in Saltaire Road, Shipley in 1917, and which is still going strong as the major UK dealer in BMW motorcycles. Not many of the places or businesses in the film are still going strong, but one that is is the White Horse Inn, owned by the Yorkshire brewers Timothy Tailors. References Angus Calder, The People's War: Britain, 1939-45, Pimlico, 1992. Juliet Gardner, Wartime: Britain 1939-1945, Headline, London, 2004. Stuart Hylton, Their Darkest Hour: The Hidden History of the Home Front 1939-1945, The History Press, 2003. Norman Longmate, How We Lived Then: A History of Everyday Life During the Second World War, Pimlico, 2002. The True Story of the Bombing of Bradford, P. W. Price, BBC Archives Rob Brown’s Story, BBC Archives: Second World War films at the YFA 'Dad's Army' and the Home Guard Details of other films about the Home Guard, moving history and home-guard Further Information Robert MacKay, Half the Battle: Civilian Morale in Britain During the Second World War, Manchester University Press, 2003. Penny Summerfield and Corinna Peniston-Bird, Contesting Home Defence: Men, Women and the Home Guard in the Second World War, Manchester university Press, 2007.