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    Bunwell Home Guard
                                  
...as remembered by John Meen

 
Bunwell Home Guard

Back row L to R: Dick Housego, Fred Hardiman, Hubert Roberts, Billy Taylor, Arthur Quantrill, Tom Crisp.
Front row L to R: Tom Eagling, Charlie Brown, Percy Meen, Harry Cook, George Brundle. 









 

When the Bunwell Home Guard first started, training used to take place at Walnut Tree Farm the home of Captain Batten.  There was another unit based at Low Common.  Sometimes the two units would meet for combined training.  In the early days there were no rifles or uniforms so drill was carried out with pitchforks and shotguns. My father Percy Meen was an air raid warden at the start of the war but soon enlisted in the Home Guard.  As an ex-naval man from the first world war he was made a sergeant and was responsible for drilling the men.

 Eventually uniforms and rifles arrived; they were each given three bullets and a bayonet.  Some of the senior officers were; Major Hubbard, Capt. R. J. Read and Capt. Cook of Cook's Garage at Carleton Rode; they were all ex-army men.

When the threat of invasion was imminent  two or three men had to stay on guard duty at night to look out for parachutists, so a caravan was acquired and placed at the end of Dirty Lane near the Methodist Chapel.  Bunkers were made in the ditches on either side of The Street and during the weekend Guards were on duty day and night.

 

I remember as a boy going to the Post Office in The Street one Saturday when two well-known local men were on guard duty.  I stopped to chat to them just as another  local character and his wife approached on bicycles.  The guards, who had powers to stop and question anyone they didn't know, decided to have a bit of fun.  They let the wife past but held the man up and asked for his identity card.  They made out that they had never seen him before, put a rifle through the spokes of his bicycle and kept him there for about and hour.   He insisted they knew who he was , but they said they had never seen him before.  Eventually they let him go.

 

Later in the war Bunwell was supplied with a field gun which was kept at Home Farm.  My father had been a gun layer in the navy so he was put in charge of the gun.  He went on a course, at Dorking, with the Regular Army and on his return was promoted to Lieutenant.  He selected a crew of mainly younger men to handle it; Frank and Jack Brown used their Ford tractors to pull it.  Training was done in the farmyard on Sunday mornings.

Manoeuvres were held  with Spooner Row or Carleton Rode Home Guard, mock battles taking place in the green lane at Wattlefield.  After training most of the men would go for a drink at the Crown and Anchor in The Street.  We will never know what would have happened if the Germans had come.