THESE wonderful pictures were sent to us by Dorchester researcher John Pidgeon, who is hoping readers will help him unearth more details of the Dorset Home Guard.

He has been collating details and photographs on the county’s Home Guard and Auxiliary units for four years and will be grateful for any information sent his way.

The photographs came from the daughter-in-law of the late Gilbert Thomas Chalke of Plush. He was initially in the Plush LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) platoon which, in July 1940, was renamed Home Guard.

He was then selected to be in Churchill’s Secret Army, the Auxiliary units, also known under the cover name of 203 Reserve Battalion Home Guard.

Gilbert was part of the Alton Pancras patrol that had a secret underground bunker at Church Hill, north east of the village.

In the event of invasion they would go to ground and let the Germans roll past. They were trained like Commandoes and would then come out and attack the invaders’ rear organisation, blowing bridges, railway line, fuel dumps and airfields.

Their aim was to avoid direct conflict with the German and like the words on the front of the Countryman’s Diary, the units’ training manual, they would ‘Do Their Stuff Unseen’.

John said: “I am researching into the Dorset Home Guard. I am hoping some of your readers might find these photographs of interest and may be able to help identify the platoon in the large photograph or some of the individuals. “After the Second World War, the Home Guard reformed in 1952 during the Cold War, yet wearing 1949 battle dress.”

The photograph of the three men was taken at Bisley in 1957.

Can anyone identify the ‘Captain Mainwaring’ officer on the left and the third officer on the right?

Gilbert Chalke is in the centre of the group and you can just make out the 203 DOR insignia on his right arm. For some strange reason the Aux units in Dorset wear their insignia the wrong way to everyone else, ie 203 over DOR.

The officer on the left is from a regular Dorset Home Guard Battalion (DOR over a single digit for one of Dorset 7 regular HG Battalions). He is highly decorated with medal ribbon including a Military Cross and Military MBE.

He may possibly be Lt Arthur Gould of Plush who was injured in the hand at the grenade ranges at Folly in 1941. John also passed on interesting details about the Countryman’s Diary, a small but deceptive volume.

He explained: “The Auxiliary Unit, of which Gilbert Chalke was a member, was trained to go to ground during the Second World War if we were invaded.

“The book was full of information and details about making booby traps and putting detonators in explosives. The idea was that if the Germans raided a house they would think the Countryman’s Diary would be of no account and would just throw it aside.

“The Auxiliary Units in Dorset were trained by Lt Peter Weaver and the men of the Scout Section at Duntish Court to the same standard as the Commandoes.

“Weaver and his men joined B Squadron 1st Battalion SAS later in the war and dropped behind German lines after D-Day on the ill-fated Operation Bulbasket. Of their members, 36 out of the 59 strong were captured and executed by the Waffen SS including Gordon Budden who was formerly a member of the Dorset Auxiliary Unit patrol at Manswood.”

He also recounted a tale of near-suffocation in the bunker at Church Hill near Alton pancras.

He said: “One time Gilbert was in the bunker and he started to feel very sleepy so he went outside and opened the hatch because his comrades were feeling the same. It turned out that they were being poisoned with carbon monoxide because the ventilation shaft was blocked by a bird nest.”