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Home Guard Sub-artillery Question

I've been doing a bit of reading of late on the Home Guard. One problem I've encountered is nailing down the organisation of the Home Guard. Which is hardly unsurprising due to the differing nature of each platoon.
To give you a brief overview, it appears Home Guard were formed based on a geographical nature. For example all eligible males within an area form a single platoon. Of course this area changes from place to place, so Cities might have smaller area's due to population density, while a very rural area may have to limit its platoon size due to the difficulties in travelling. So organisational strength varies from area to area. Although the "ideal" squad is given as ten men.
Thus it seems organisation is very elastic. Equally, it also depends on how the local commander, and the resource's available to him. The Cambridge HG had a battalion that was motorised with vehicles from the local population.

Another unique feature of the Home Guard was the Sub Artillery, weapons like the Northover and Smith Gun. I'm trying to work out how these were dolled out to HG units. One presumes to avoid the risk of having one area with all your Anti-tank assets, and the rest of your Battalion area completely devoid of any that the sub-artillery would be handed out on a per platoon area. This would also mean you had enough infantry to fight any German Para's that drop in for tea. This is sort of re-enforced by the mention of many HG cross training all soldiers in the use of assorted sub-artillery.
However, one can not discount the concept of the Weapons platoon within the battalion, although I think this may well be a feature of the more densely populated areas. As we do have items like this:
Which show a sub-artillery platoon.

So does anyone have any knowledge on how everything was thrown together for the Home Guard, especially how the sub-artillery was issued? Or is it completely variable?
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
Something to bear in mind is the (partly) ad hoc nature of the Home Guard until quite late in its life span. It was possible for HG units to purchase weapons carriers, "armoured" car kits etc. Possible AT / Support weapons as well?

I'll have a dig...
 
Something to bear in mind is the (partly) ad hoc nature of the Home Guard until quite late in its life span. It was possible for HG units to purchase weapons carriers, "armoured" car kits etc. Possible AT / Support weapons as well?

Armoured Car kits are another endless rabbit hole I fear.

The LDV/Home Guard was only around for four years, and (I think) it was early 41 when it was formed into a proper military organisation, with ranks and such forth. Prior to that it was just a large body of men with rifles, and the standing order "if anything happens start shooting!". The idea was to delay and impede any lightly armed German para's.
It'd have worked as well, as some heavily armed British para's got stuffed by the same tactics at Arnhem.

I have read Fletcher's comment about a Home Guard lorry with Bombard mounted to the back, but have been unable to track a source down for it.

I'll have a dig...

Thanks!
 

HE117

LE
From what I recall, the Bombard and the Northover were both government supplied items, however I think the Smith Gun had to be paid for from local donations. It was made by TriAng I think as a private venture?
 
From what I recall, the Bombard and the Northover were both government supplied items, however I think the Smith Gun had to be paid for from local donations. It was made by TriAng I think as a private venture?

No idea on the Smith Gun, there's a tasty looking file on it that keeps cropping up on my searches at Kew. But of course Kew time is limited, so it has to go on stuff I can actually use.
Not that It's open at current!
 

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
From what I recall, the Bombard and the Northover were both government supplied items, however I think the Smith Gun had to be paid for from local donations. It was made by TriAng I think as a private venture?
That's what was rattling around in my cranium!
 

HE117

LE
There is a Smith gun bomb in the museum at Kineton. As I recall it is a cast iron cylinder about the size of a large beans tin with bearing surfaces machined at either end. It has a 69 Allways fuze at one end and what is basically a modified shoe polish tin at the other end.. one side of the tin is rivited to the bomb body and filled with propellant (GP i think!) and with a .455 blank in the centre..

I have a feeling it was filled with Baratol like 36 grenades, but I could be wrong...
 
There is a Smith gun bomb in the museum at Kineton. As I recall it is a cast iron cylinder about the size of a large beans tin with bearing surfaces machined at either end. It has a 69 Allways fuze at one end and what is basically a modified shoe polish tin at the other end.. one side of the tin is rivited to the bomb body and filled with propellant (GP i think!) and with a .455 blank in the centre..

I have a feeling it was filled with Baratol like 36 grenades, but I could be wrong...

I fear you maybe mistaking a Home Guard mortar for a Smith gun round? This thread has lots of pictures and cut-aways of the ammo, and it seems to be a whole lot more formalised than some parts whacked together. There is also a differnce in the fuse type.

 

HE117

LE
I fear you maybe mistaking a Home Guard mortar for a Smith gun round? This thread has lots of pictures and cut-aways of the ammo, and it seems to be a whole lot more formalised than some parts whacked together. There is also a differnce in the fuse type.

Thanks for that... not seen that diagram before...

No, that's the beast I was describing.. The fuze is interesting.. it is clearly a modified 69, which was what I thought was on the School of Ammo specimen.. It had the normal bakelite safety cap, and I assumed it was a standard 69 underneath. I will try and have a look the next time I am there, which may be sooner rather than later..! It may be that originally a modified 69 fuze with an enhanced impact feature was intended, but in practice just a standard 69 was actually used...? The projectile looks about as stable as a sideboard, so perhaps the idea that it would hit nose first was a bit optimistic?

I may have given the wrong impression in my previous description, but the Smith Gun projectile is made up from mostly standardised parts. The bomb body is just a machined sand casting, and the cartridge is a mild steel stamping. The fuze and primer are just modified or repurposed existing natures.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Archive footage...:

1592560580217.png
 

4(T)

LE
Just as a completely OT side thread; I was wondering how wartime firearms/ explosives laws were altered or suspended to accommodate all of the private commercial firms and civilians who were dabbling with improvised munitions and small arms in the 1940s?

Much of the stuff used by LDV or developed by enthusiastic amateurs would have been "prohibited" even under 1930s laws. Now presumably the LDV itself fell under military laws/exemptions, but what about all the individuals and firms working on projects who were under civil law?

Today you'd expect a jail sentence if you built a spigot mortar in your shed, and thats even without handling or obtaining propellant and/or explosive material.
 

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