©Local Defence Volunteers or Home Guard
 

On the evening of May 14th 1940, the Secretary of State for War made an important speech, pointing out that Europe was being overrun by the Germans. To alleviate such a likelihood of this taking place in Great Britain, a new special force was being assembled. Since the war began, the Government had received countless enquiries from all over the country from men of all ages, who were not already engaged in military service, to do something to defend their country. The Government asked all such men aged between 17 and 65 to join this new force which would be called the LOCAL DEFENCE VOLUNTEERS. Within 24 hours, a quarter of a million men had enlisted

A local acronym was Look, Duck and Vanish.

During 1940, the LDV changed name to the HOME GUARD.
In Essex alone by mid 1942, some 40,000 men had enrolled.

Bures men rallied to the call to form No4 Platoon of "C" company 15th Essex Battalion of the Home Guard.
The War Dept decreed that Bures because of its military importance with a river crossing should be defended at all costs. For the LDV or regular soldiers to abandon the village was not an option.
The Home Guards main objective was to protect the Stour Bridge and support the regular soldiers billeted in the village. The unit trained in Chambers yard and drilled on the recreation ground.

These were men with reserved occupations, such as farmers, firemen, doctors etc.

The original Patrol Members were:-

H Pat Baker, Sgt
W “Fred” Smith, Pte.
David Chambers, Pte.
R F 'Conrad' Goldsmith, Pte.
Gordon Webber, Pte.
Gordon Drake Pte
H Morton Pte

Gordon Drake owned a butcher’s shop in Bures, as well as a slaughterhouse. A number of the patrol were employees of the slaughterhouse.
Gordon Drake was treated at St Leonards Hospital in Sudbury for his injuries when a stray antiaircraft shell hit the slaughterhouse on October 19th 1942. One man, Reginald Drury was killed and another two, including Walter Smith, admitted to hospital. The shell was reported to have come from Colchester.

Pat Baker was an assistant slaughterman at the slaughterhouse.
Pat Baker was a keen cricketer and Honorary Secretary of the Bures club for many years. Drake, Baker, Smith and Chambers all appear in the village’s regular Home Guard records in late 1940, before they joined Aux Units.

David Chambers was one of the local Chambers brothers, David left the Home Guard and joined the RAF in September 1941, reaching the rank of Warrant Officer flying Hurricanes.

Fred Smith joined the RAF in August 1941.

Normally the patrol met in Gordon Drake’s house. The patrol went to River House at nearby Earls Colne for training. Gordon Drake mentioned going to Wiltshire, so he almost certainly went to Coleshill House.
This was the General Headquarters (GHQ) of Home Forces Auxiliary Units -

Not sure when Gordon Drake was promoted to the Headquaters staff at Parsonage Hall ( see below)
Seems to have been promoted above Pat Baker who was a sergeant.


Their Commanding Officer was Dr Thomas Wood, an elderly famous but very short sighted musician.
In a "Red Warning" situation, sections would be posted at the following locations:-

Headquarters Staff, Parsonage Hall.
Messrs, Commanding Officer Dr Thomas Wood, Assistant & Acting Adjutant R Probert, G Drake, Quarter Master Baker, Diss, & Alfred Hume.

Sect 1.St Edmunds Lane
Messrs, F Cansdale, A Cansdale, Binks, Bland, Delane, T Cudmore, Goody, F Smith & Springett
+ Cyclist Runner (Total 9)

Sect 2, Slaughter House
Messrs, Fisher, Baldwin, Eaves, Johnson, Juniper, Gooch & Hume
(Total 6) No Transport

Sect 3, Spout Lane
Messrs, Keys, Brown, Fisher, Heales, L Clampin, Smith W, Brand, Talbot + 2 others
(Total 8) + runner

Sect 4, Smallbridge Crossroads.
Messrs, Six-Smith, Bird, A Eaves, C Cardy, Symonds, D Chambers, F Hume, P Hume.
(Total 8)

ldv staff

Left to right:- Curly Eaves, C Cardy, Pat Sixsmith. Ralph Symonds and G. Bird.


ldv

1. A Eaves
2. C Cardy
3. V.Cutting
4. Ralph Symonds
5. P Sixsmith

 

 

eaves
Curly Eaves later posted to Jaffa, Egypt with
5th Suffolk Regiment.

ldv
ldv

In the event of an emergency or "Red Warning" from HQ, key members of the group would be informed by telephone.
However Messrs, Clampin, Keys, Smith W and Healey were not to be disturbed on a Saturday night - I leave this to your imagination.

During August 1940, six Browning automatic rifles arrived from the USA. There were no manual or instructions and they were assembled by trial and error, in the post room of the vicarage.
To make matters worse they were packed in wooden boxes in thick glutinous grease, just as they were ready to send to France in 1918. You can imagine the mess trying to clean up these parts, cleaning rags soon became impregnated with this treacle like grease.
Such was the level of crisis that no documents were issued by the War Office either. However Richard Probert managed to purchase from a local bookshop, a manual on the Browning Automatic Rifle for one shilling. Other bookshop manuals, were freely available on the Colt, Lugar, Mauser etc.

During the same month, the group had to collect boxes of `Molotov Cocktails` from Boxford. The inflammable material inside the bottle was liquid phosphorus, somewhat delicate and very dangerous to the handler. They were intended to be thrown at the invading German Tanks. As far as anyone can remember, these were stored in underground drains at Chambers Bus Station yard.

Richard Probert shot enormous quantities of rabbits for a Mrs Wood to bottle. The idea was to to store these in a dugout as emergency rations, against any impending invasion. As sterilizing and vacuum sealing was not very familiar to her, they all turned rotten........

There were several incidents during this Aug - Sept period, The most memorable was a `white parachute` reported landing in a nearby field on a moonlit night. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a white cow moving around behind a hedge in St Edmunds Lane. This incident took place at the height of the Battle of Britain, when invasion was though to be imminent, everybody was naturally very nervous. It was a very highly intense and jittery period - although the local residents seemed to be very calm about it at the time.

Churchill gave the codeword "Cromwell" for the imminent invasion of the British Isles. Subsequently on 7th September 1940 the codeword was issued and Church bells rang throughout the land. 1.5 million Home Guard troops were mobilised in order to defend our country. Fortunately it was a false alarm and the troops stood down.

Never a dull moment in the days of the LDV in 1940..........

LDV staff

Acton Rifle Range 13th August 1940.
LDV Target Practice
Photo taken by Dr Thomas Wood.

Commanding Officer was Col. P. Young.
No1 Frank Hume
No2 Bernard Johnson
No3 Vic Cutting (LNER Lorry Driver)
No4 Alf Cansdale (Chambers Lorry Driver)
No5 Frank Cansdale (Nicknamed "Corporal"
No6 Bill Cardy (Farm Foreman, Garrads)

 

Photo courtesy of Col. R. Probert

Text kindly supplied by Col R.H.C Probert.
Previously used at the 1995 Bures Exhibition to commemorate 50th anniversary of VE day.

Click Here for further information on Thomas Wood
Click Here for further information on Bures Auxillary Fire Service during the W
ar

Updated 01.01.07
Photographss courtesy of Peter Richards, Col R Probert and Jenny Delaine

Updated 04/09/2014