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Beckingham Home Guard

Beckingham Home Guard

On 10th May 1940 the Germans started invading France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg and the country became acutely aware of its vulnerability and of the need to supplement the regular army. On 14th May the Government made a short broadcast on BBC radio with a request for volunteers for the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers). This request was aimed at all those men who were not already serving with the Armed Forces and who were aged between 17 and 65 years, of reasonable fitness and resident in the UK. It was not meant to be an alternative to being called up for full time service neither was it meant to be full time or entail living away from home. On 23rd August 1940 Winston Churchill changed the name of LDV to the Home Guard as he felt LDV was “uninspiring”.

The Home Guard was under the overall control of the War Office but was controlled by HQs, the nearest to Beckingham being Gringley on the Hill. For each Home Guard Battalion there would be four Companies made up of four to five platoons and with each platoon split into four sections. A section would normally consist of approximately 25 men and could be sub-divided into squads. Each Battalion would therefore contain approximately 1500 men, which for administration purposes would be a Home Guard unit.

Brigadier General Sir Joseph Laycock helped with the formation in the Retford area and it was probably he who formed the nucleus of officers from men he knew, and who formed the 10th Battalion, Notts Home Guard.

Initially, the Home Guard had their own Rank structure but this was changed to the rank of the regular army in November 1940 as below:-

Brigadier Colonel
Captain/Lieutenant/2nd Lieutenant
Private (ranked as ‘volunteers’ until 1942)

‘A’ Company, 10th Battalion Notts covered the local area from Sutton, north of Retford as far as Scrooby, then east to the Trent at Beckingham side of Gainsborough and south to Sturton le Steeple. The Company was made up of 4 platoons which were split into the following areas:- (click on the links below for a full list of the Platoon members)

No 1 Platoon
Misterton and West Stockwith
No 2 Platoon
Walkeringham, Beckingham, Saundby, Wheatley, West Burton, Bole, Fountain Hill and Sturton le Steeple – as per image (right) – click to view larger image
No 3 Platoon
Clayworth, Everton, Mattersey, Gringley, Drakeholes and Wiseton
No 4 Platoon
Sutton, Lound, Ranskill, Scrooby, Torworth, Barnby Moor, Daneshill Holiday Camp (today Daneshill Lakes)
HQ Staff
Based at Gringley on the Hill

From the above there was a Special Squad formed to defend the River Idle Bridge on the road between Misterton and Haxey Gate Railway Crossing, of which Sergeant Aldam (No 1 Platoon) was in charge.

Many of the names listed as enrolled are familiar names with family still living in the village today:

George Percival Proudley who lived in what was known as ‘Percy’s Cottage’ (now demolished) that was situated by the lane where Southfields stands across the dual carriageway from Bar Road South. His brother, Robert Day Proudley lived on Low Street.

Rex Madin’s father was Lance Corporal in the Home Guard (B Madin) and was in the stretcher bearing section. He remembers his father being called out to search for a German Parachutist that had come down and he recalls them finding him also.

Frank Adams (father of Norman, Doug, Philip and Joyce Adams) was Second Lieutenant and surprisingly is listed as being under No1 Platoon in the register. We can only assume this was an error when writing up the register as Frank Adams was living in Beckingham at the time and all Beckingham men came under No 2 Platoon.

Ron Brumby, whose nephew Geoff still lives in the village, worked at the Shipyard building mine sweepers and his work was essential for him not to be called up to the main forces. He enrolled as volunteer for the Home Guard.

Evelyn Leggott (nee Pipe) whose father was a farmer served in the Home Guard. Evelyn (who organises the Beckingham School Reunion each year) and her family lived at Marsh Farm down Old Trent Road. This farm has since been demolished.

Both Marshall’s and Rose Brother’s in Gainsborough had their own Home Guard section and employees (including Percy Brumby from Beckingham who worked at Marshall’s) would do part of their training through the workplace.

Fred Gosling who is the oldest resident in Beckingham had an older brother, Frank Reginald who was listed as being in the Home Guard. Frank lived in one of the Shipyard houses on Old Trent Road with his sister Gertrude Mable.