Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring! A group of enthusiasts from Doncaster has brought in the Home Guard to help people remember the 1940s.
It may be a far cry from the 1970s sitcom Dad’s Army, but a group of enthusiasts are donning uniforms and are planning to take part in themed events in the local area.
The group has been set up by a number of volunteers who help out at the Ashworth Barracks Museum on Cedar Road, Balby, which is run by the Victoria Cross Trust.
They wanted to set up a group for re-enactors and 1940s enthusiasts which could include both men and women of all ages.
Organisers of the group say the Home Guard had people involved of all ages, male and female, and was not just like the 70s sitcom. Many of the organisation’s functions were run by women in 40s civilian clothes.
And as well as old men like the fictional Capt Mainwaring and Cpl Jones, there were also many youngsters who were not old enough to join the forces and men who were in reserved occupations such as mining, who did not get called up for the regular army.
My grandfather was in the Home Guard and it was something I really wanted to take part in’
Organisers of the group said the Home Guard were often given guard duties in the area in the war.
For instance, when a Lancaster bomber made an emergency landing on a road near Thorne, the Home Guard were sent out to guard the plane until it was moved.
So far, there are 16 members of the group – 10 male and six female.
Steve Green, aged 62, of Lindholme, was among the first to enlist for the group.
He said: “It’s something that’s really close to my heart. My grandfather was in the Home Guard and it was something I really wanted to take part in. People don’t know a lot about the Home Guard, how it was formed, or that there were many women involved.
“In Doncaster, a lot of the Home Guard were the men who worked down the pits.”
Paul Grimley, 61, of Dunscroft, has also signed up for the group.
He said: “I was initially a volunteer at Ashworth Barracks when it first opened, although I took a break from that. But I heard about this being set up last week. I’m dressed as an RAF regiment instructor – but the Home Guard would have had military instructors.”
Paul spend 13 years in the RAF Regiment himself and now takes guided tours of battlefields in France and Belgium. He said: “We know there are huge numbers of people who are interested in the 1940s and some of them may be women who don’t want to wear military uniforms – we would like them to join and wear 1940s civilian clothes. There were also women air raid wardens and women in the Auxiliary Training Service.
“My wife Sue is in the group and she wears a replica of what her mum wore when she was attached to a Royal Artillery anti-aircraft battery. She met my father in law there, as he was firing the guns.”
Among the women to have joined the group is Denise Murden. She is also a volunteer at the museum and previously worked as a nurse at St Catherine’s Hospital for 24 years
Sue has not picked a costume yet but thinks she will choose a uniform, rather than civilian clothes.
She said: “I love the history. I’m also going to bring my dog Gemma, along, and we can use her as a sniffer dog.
“She comes out with a backpack and we’ll send her out to sniff for some marzipan which we’ll pretend is explosives. She loves the attention.”
* Anyone interested in getting involved in the group can find out more at the Ashworth Barracks Museum on Cedar Road, Balby, or on its Facebook or Twitter pages.