Will Meet Tanks with New Weapons
THE HOME GUARD
Will Meet Tanks with New Weapons
By a Military Correspondent
In the first year of its existence the Home Guard grew and changed its functions to such an extent that its parent, Mr Anthony Eden, might be forgiven if he hardly recognised his flourishing off-spring.
What will he think about it this time next year? How much strength will it have put on? How large a share will it have had in repelling the invasion if this should come in the second year of its existence?
No definite answer can be given to these questions and if they could, the answers which would satisfy our curiosity would at the same time satisfy that of the Germans.
Nevertheless, by noting the increase in size and power and the change in function which the Home Guard has undergone since its inception, we may, perhaps, with a little imagination, forecast its development.
A BIGGER RESPONSIBILITY
The Local Defence Volunteers, as they were originally called, sprang into being almost overnight, when, with France beaten, the defence of Britain to the last man was an imperative consideration.
One of the original difficulties was equipment, in that dark day when after Dunkirk we were rich in man-power and in nothing else.
That difficulty has been overcome. The Home Guard, wearing the King’s uniform, is today equipped with the weapons best suited to its function. In addition to rifles, it has its own light and medium machine-guns; it has its issue of Tommy guns; and has several types of grenades.
What is more, several new weapons have recently been perfected for the special purpose of dealing with isolated tanks. These new arms will prove an especial boon to the Home Guard in the event of invasion.
Emphasis on the equipment of this new arms of our defence forces is evidence of how much the Home Guard’s function has changed. It began as a unit with the job of warning regular troops of the whereabouts of the enemy in the event of invasion.
Today it undertakes a bigger responsibility. It has the job of harassing and obstructing the enemy throughout its own locality. One of its great strengths is that, being a local force, it knows every nook and cranny of the land; and being an armed local force it is capable of dealing with small bodies of the enemy on its own ground.
CYCLISTS AND PARACHUTISTS
It is not, of course, armed to cut off entire Panzer Divisions – it can only report such marauders to the Army- but it keeps watch for and is equipped to deal with, the isolated tank, motor vehicles, infantry cyclists and parachutists. When we recently received the unexpected visitor who landed in a ploughed field in Scotland, two Home Guards had him in safe keeping within a few minutes, and they are ready to extend the same welcome to the Fuehrer or to any other Deputies he likes to send over.
There are still problems to be solved and perfections to be attained before the Home Guard is fully satisfied with itself. But the few men who were the first Local Defence Volunteers are today multiplied into a formidable force – the concrete expression of the Prime Minister’s promise to fight on the beaches, in the fields, in the hills and never surrender.
In spite of the face that the call-up has taken some from its ranks the strength of the Home Guard has been maintained at its peak and in some places slightly increased. Cadet Units of youth from the age of seventeen have been formed and these volunteers are being trained to take the place of the men who are called up.