Not ex-HSF myself but the HSF (Hornsey Special Forces) section at Hornsey, north London (6/7 QUEEN'S) contained three ex-platoon sergeants, three ex-full screws and several former Lance Jacks and privates, all of whom were still young enough to serve in the TA but work or family commitments forced them to leave. They did a sterling job and put in far more days than was required.
We seemed to have a slack handful of ex-WO1s and ex-WO2s, and a pile of blokes from 15 Para and 23; I remember a triathlete who always won the battalion BFT.
As far as I could work out, they all drew straws, and the loser got made CSM...
...the Coy 2ic was known as "a Bridge too Far" (his denims were actually real denim, none of your cheap polycotton rubbish) we had Billy Connolly's old platoon commander floating around as a platoon commander, and the OC was the Secretary of the Bank of Scotland...
I could tell other stories, but the "broken bottle of Buckfast in the bergen" tale would give away the identity of the Motherwell platoon.
The nearest I got to fear was when our CO met my ex-regular Dad, and tried to recruit him as a Pl Comd. The thought of two 2Lt Gravelbellies in the same Bn was very scary...
I rose to be the Pay Sgt of No 2 Company HAC HSF having been a major in the Gunners.
Our 1st OC was Orde Wingate. The second was a nice chartered surveyor. The third was an ex Grenadier Guards WO1 - uggy, who had been drill Sgt for the HAC. In a curious role reversal the CSM was the ex Senior Major (2IC) of the HAC serving Regiment. One platoon commander had commanders a company at Goose Green and a second was a guardsman who had been mobilised for Suez as a national service officer. (He was descended from a British commander from the American Rebellion made famous in Mel Gibson's film) The third was a nice chap who runs the old boys association.
The ranks were full of interesting types. We had the MD of some part vickers defence sales, a professional ex para officer, and a clump of ex officers. One NCO owned a chain of city wine bars which are the favoured place for the London Insurance market. Another chap owned a fairly well known private bank - and allowed us to exercise on his land at Watership Down.
One NCO was known as Blind Bob -a great shot, who had to have been in his late 60s. He had served in Iraq in 1947-8 and was one of the first people to retire at 65 from the IT industry. He had worked on the Joe Lyons Payroll system, one of the first commercial computers.
Besides the usual HAC stockbrokers, bankers lawyers and IT types we had a selection of normal people with really useful jobs such as bookies, cabbies and publicans. There were some very strange people who might not have passed through a more rigorous test of suitability. One chap was sufficiently special to not be trusted with live ammunition and had a lower IQ than most dogs and several with distinctly odd lives. Old Pat claimed he was eligible for the 1939-45 Home Service medal having been in the Home Guard - but never backed up the claim and we had several who claimed Vietnam war service with never wholly convincing stories.
There was intense rivalry between the two HSF Companies raised by the HAC. Much of it seemed to come from the 2IC then OC of No 1 company who had always been a TA HAC soldier. He seemed to want to impose a quasi SF style on this HSF organisation dedicated to Key point defence. They ran around with cam cream and face veil bandanas. We had beret and IS order.
I forced too many weekend soldiers to spend their Friday evenings filling a bedford with Q stores, but we did have a decent breakfast, baking in the field and a fully tactical bar.
It was huge fun and as in the way of military re-orginisation, disbanded before 9/11 would have had us stagging on for anything other than a few weekends a year.
Time goes by and you may be still ticking?
I am keen to make contact with, or even get feedback from, anybody who served in the Home Service Force.
If you served between 1982 and 1985 in a Pilot Company (Nos 1 - 4) so much the better.
If you served at all, even between 1985 and 1992, or your loved one did, then go to hsfassociation.com and fill in the Feedback Page. I know, I know, some lucky ones managed to hand on after 1992, but they didn't shout about it.
(Who the hell are you lot?)