Don’t panic – our Home Guard were ready for action

Don’t panic – our Home Guard were ready for action

SERVICE: Dorset Home Guard soldiers

SERVICE: Dorset Home Guard soldiers

SERVICE: Dorset Home Guard soldiers

SERVICE: Dorset Home Guard soldiers

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by

NOT only does this year see the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, it also sees the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Battle of Arnheim and the stand down of the Home Guard.

Reader John Pidgeon has borrowed these two photos of Dorset Home Guard soldiers.

They originated from the effects of Weymouth resident Gordon Tolley, an officer in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) during the Second World War.

The pictures show the senior officers from the 5th Battalion (Weymouth) Dorset Home Guard and were taken just before stand down in late 1944.

John said: “I am hoping some Looking Back readers will be able to identify their relative and get in touch.

“The location of the photograph is also a bit of a mystery.

“The three-storey terraced street next to a park has some distinctive features and maybe a reader recognises their own house.

“The upper storey windows still have the air raid blast tape on the glass and a few of the roof slates look like they have recently been replaced due to bomb or ack-ack shrapnel damage.”

John said some of the characters in the larger group photograph are worthy of specific mention.

He said: “The major wearing a beret in centre front is sporting a First World War Royal Flying Corps observer wing.

“Right of him is Battalion C/O Lt Colonel Charles Edward Stewart, who won three bronze medals for pistol shooting at the 1912 Olympics and another in 1948 aged 66.

“The three officers at the left of the front row are unusually wearing Royal Artillery cap badges but also Home Guard insignia.

“While researching this I came across the third photograph from Michael Day and Linda Haylock.

“This is the gun section of the 5th Battalion Home Guard commanded by Michael’s grandfather John Mozart Haylock.

“He served in the First World War in the Royal Garrison Artillery as 2nd Lt and was chairman of the Artillery Association in Weymouth.

“In the Second World War he was landlord of the Military Arms public house.

“After the parade, the platoon would pile into the pub and demonstrate an alternative way of defending Weymouth to the last round!”

John would like Looking Back readers to tell him who is in the photograph.

Finally, John has a photo of the Home Guard taken outside 99 The Esplanade Weymouth, which he bought locally.

He said: “I know nothing about the men in the picture so again am looking for answers.”

The Home Guard in Weymouth was very much on the front line with the town defended as an ‘anti tank island’.

By February 1942 the battalion consisted of 64 officers and 1,510 other ranks but with constant changes it is estimated that double this number served in the battalion. Five Weymouth Home Guard were killed in the Second World War.

If anyone can help John in his quest to identify people in the photo, he can be contacted at jcpidgeon@btinternet.com

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