Home Guard

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Home Guard

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The Home Guard, also known as the citizen army developed as a response to Prime Minister Anthony Edens appeal for volunteers on 14 May 1940, to defend Britain who was on the brink of invasion. Thousands of men volunteered and it remained a voluntary organization until 1942, when service was made compulsory and was brought up to the same level as the Field Army. However it remained unpaid and equipment including weapons, uniforms, meeting places and administration had to be pulled from all resources as it received limited funding from the government.

By the end of 1942 it had over 1.8 million members and had helped develop the Womens Home Defence, which by 1943 had merged in to the Home Guard, and the Youth Forces which was seen as a pre-service body.

After the D Day landings, the Home Guard was stood down in November 1944 but was not officially disbanded until 31st December 1945.

The Croydon Area had eight Surrey Battalions of the Home Guard, serving the areas of Croydon, Norwood, Norbury, Purley, Addington and Wallington. The organization of the Z zone was the responsibility of Major Norman Gillett who spent May 1940 drawing up boundaries, organizing the volunteers, the equipment and weapons. The zones Head Quarters was first at 5 Friends Road and then moved later to 4 Fell Road.

Major Gillett saw the prime direction from which the threat of attack would come from was the rural end of Croydon so Purley, Addington and Wallington battalions were the top priority. The 61st Surrey (Norwood) Battalion was seen as one of the back areas, though was still important. It was lead by Sector Commander Lt Col F.L. Walker and was made an official unit on 21st April 1942. It was a part of the Queens Royal Regiment (West Surrey) and known within the Z zone as Z5.

When the Home Guard was stood down a parade was held on November 26 1944, and the members of the Home Guard marched past the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey and other associated guests at the Town Hall. The following week the individual battalions held their own parades to thank their family, friends and supporters.


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