Shooters Hill, Time Team and the defences of London in WW2

Dwarf

LE

Sorry if this is familiar to you all, but I've just come across it on YouTube and thought I would bring it to arrsers' attention. The team look at elements of the defences against a theoretical successful German invasion of the Isles. *

What struck me was the use of the Home Guard as stand in place, shoot till they get you troops and their armaments which seemed inadequate for the task. Given that had the Germans got that far then a lot of our best kit would have been used up, then probably there wouldn't have been much left over for the HG.
Also I was interested to see the suggested Black Ops control centre to be used by stay behind troops if the invaders managed to pass through the defences.

Once on Shooter's Hill any invading force would have had London lie before them so I imagine the defences would also have been boosted by elements of what was left of the Regular Army.

Hope you enjoy the video if you haven't already seen it and I would be interested in any observations you have especially if you have knowledge of the place.



* I underlined theoretical so please let's not refight Sealion or the BoB which have been done to death on more than one thread, but which arrsers seem unable to resist talking about. It's just what was planned as a defence against that theoretical successful landing and if it would have been effective.
 

TotalBanker

Old-Salt
i used to live on top of Shooters Hill! I cant view the clip but remember seeing the programme (or at least one like it) when broadcast. Everafter when i go over the hill i look at the discoloured section on the Bull pub at the top of the hill where the bunker used to be
 
What struck me was the use of the Home Guard as stand in place, shoot till they get you troops and their armaments which seemed inadequate for the task.

Bollocks.

**wheels in soap box**

The Home Guard were very well equipped and trained. One of my colleagues has advanced the theory that the HG were some of the foremost FIBUA experts in the world at the time. Simply because they practiced and trained extensively in their area, which in London was entirely built up. They exchanged information between units as I proved earlier in the year with my Bombard lecture, equally, that lecture shows that they'd have bee able to happily mallet a Panther tank, if not a King Tiger).

The problem is one thing, Dads Army. That has given a very warped view of the Home Guard to everyone. It seems that is the only game in town, and work you do on the HG has to be framed in that context apparently, and its bloody annoying! That said they did get the bravery and feel of the HG right. With the famous scene in at the start of the Dads Army film of the enrolment of the volunteers. Everyone has a ******* sad on for the HG, and immediately waves towards Dads Army as proof. Look at Fletcher's recent video on the Tank Museum website about the Bison. Where he states that the German Para's would have won becuase they're Germans and only up against Home Guard. Lets ignore the fact that it was RAF local Defence troops (Not quite RAF regiment yet, but close) in the Bison, and lets focus on how the FJ are going to over come a mobile bloody bunker that is designed to be a mobile firing point, not an AFV, when the biggest weapon they have is a PzB-39? Even if they've shot everything out (great you now have a five ton wreck in the middle of your landing strip) There's still half a dozen blokes inside with a LMG and rifles waiting to strudel any transports that come in.

As to the role as described, SOP was 'if something happens start shooting!'. Now this sounds really bad, but is it?
Let us consider later in the war, at Arnhem. A few rifle squads were thrown across the Line of advance by the Germans and they slowed the initial movements of the Para's, to the extent the vast majority were unable to reach the bridge and the Operation failed. These rifle squads were just a few blokes with rifles, and the odd LMG.
The Home Guard were a damn sight better equipped than that. Equally, the Fallschirmjager were a damn sight worse equipped than the British Para Divisions.
Equally, you had Mechanised Home Guard battalions for manoeuvre warfare. My local county HG had some seven battalions, one of which was Mechanised. Amongst them they had some 112 Bombards. That is not an insignificant force. Keep in mind a Bombard has the ability to kill any tank coming at it, has no muzzle flash, a ROF of 12 RPM (at max, 6 was considered more standard), basic training gave an accuracy of 66%, If that wasn't enough it had roughly the same effect as a 3-inch mortar. Then you can start piling on the massive amounts of quad AA machine guns, explosives for fun and games stock piled everywhere (look at how the Home Guard extensively went in for IED warfare... ask yourself how the Germans would have fared).

Basically the popular 'Oh Dads Army was shit and a joke', gets me very annoyed. Trouble is a lot of historians trot it out when they should know better.
 

TotalBanker

Old-Salt
Is this the same shooters hill by Bexley? Unfortunately cannot see the video
not far, get to Bexleyheath then straight road (part of the old Watling st i think) straight through Welling (lets face it nobody wants to stop in Welling, unless buying cartridges at Forseys) then a straight run up the hill. Pub at the top, park on the left
 

Dwarf

LE
Bollocks.

**wheels in soap box**

The Home Guard were very well equipped and trained. One of my colleagues has advanced the theory that the HG were some of the foremost FIBUA experts in the world at the time. Simply because they practiced and trained extensively in their area, which in London was entirely built up. They exchanged information between units as I proved earlier in the year with my Bombard lecture, equally, that lecture shows that they'd have bee able to happily mallet a Panther tank, if not a King Tiger).

The problem is one thing, Dads Army. That has given a very warped view of the Home Guard to everyone. It seems that is the only game in town, and work you do on the HG has to be framed in that context apparently, and its bloody annoying! That said they did get the bravery and feel of the HG right. With the famous scene in at the start of the Dads Army film of the enrolment of the volunteers. Everyone has a ******* sad on for the HG, and immediately waves towards Dads Army as proof. Look at Fletcher's recent video on the Tank Museum website about the Bison. Where he states that the German Para's would have won becuase they're Germans and only up against Home Guard. Lets ignore the fact that it was RAF local Defence troops (Not quite RAF regiment yet, but close) in the Bison, and lets focus on how the FJ are going to over come a mobile bloody bunker that is designed to be a mobile firing point, not an AFV, when the biggest weapon they have is a PzB-39? Even if they've shot everything out (great you now have a five ton wreck in the middle of your landing strip) There's still half a dozen blokes inside with a LMG and rifles waiting to strudel any transports that come in.

As to the role as described, SOP was 'if something happens start shooting!'. Now this sounds really bad, but is it?
Let us consider later in the war, at Arnhem. A few rifle squads were thrown across the Line of advance by the Germans and they slowed the initial movements of the Para's, to the extent the vast majority were unable to reach the bridge and the Operation failed. These rifle squads were just a few blokes with rifles, and the odd LMG.
The Home Guard were a damn sight better equipped than that. Equally, the Fallschirmjager were a damn sight worse equipped than the British Para Divisions.
Equally, you had Mechanised Home Guard battalions for manoeuvre warfare. My local county HG had some seven battalions, one of which was Mechanised. Amongst them they had some 112 Bombards. That is not an insignificant force. Keep in mind a Bombard has the ability to kill any tank coming at it, has no muzzle flash, a ROF of 12 RPM (at max, 6 was considered more standard), basic training gave an accuracy of 66%, If that wasn't enough it had roughly the same effect as a 3-inch mortar. Then you can start piling on the massive amounts of quad AA machine guns, explosives for fun and games stock piled everywhere (look at how the Home Guard extensively went in for IED warfare... ask yourself how the Germans would have fared).

Basically the popular 'Oh Dads Army was shit and a joke', gets me very annoyed. Trouble is a lot of historians trot it out when they should know better.
That's why I said seemed, they mention Boyes A/Tk rifles good against light armour but not main tank armour for example. Thanks for that post, I know less about the HG than maybe I should but know that Dad's Army was a comedy and not the real thing. I can see them being effective fighting for their homes in the streets they know, especially if the Germans had to clean out the streets to get through.
Didn't know they had mech. Can you shed a bit more light on that please?

Posts like your are what I was hoping for, it points me towards things I didn't know before and makes a clearer picture of the whole thing.
 

bestri10

Old-Salt
not far, get to Bexleyheath then straight road (part of the old Watling st i think) straight through Welling (lets face it nobody wants to stop in Welling, unless buying cartridges at Forseys) then a straight run up the hill. Pub at the top, park on the left
Im too close to avoid it unfortunately, ill go up shooters hill next week and have a look.
For anyone interested there was also a German pilot shot down fighting over essex early in the war, managed to fly over shooters hill and bail out, the plane landed near where some flats are now next to upper wickham lane and the pilots body landed in the field next to it after his parachute failed to open. If i remember correctly the wrecked plane was put on display outside what is now mcdonalds and the pilot may have been briefly buried in Bexleyheath cemetery before being moved up by Birmingham.
 
That's why I said seemed, they mention Boyes A/Tk rifles good against light armour but not main tank armour for example. Thanks for that post, I know less about the HG than maybe I should but know that Dad's Army was a comedy and not the real thing. I can see them being effective fighting for their homes in the streets they know, especially if the Germans had to clean out the streets to get through.
Didn't know they had mech. Can you shed a bit more light on that please?

Posts like your are what I was hoping for, it points me towards things I didn't know before and makes a clearer picture of the whole thing.

Bombard stuff is in this book for the full details:
Amazon product
For the presentation:

For the Mechanised HG see if you can track down this:

I'm currently working on British WWII rockets, and there's quite a lot of stuff with the Home Guard, as they were trained to use them in Z-batteries. But as is usually the case there's quite a lot of wrong info on those subjects floating about.

I can also point you towards the Northover Projector here:

This chap had a good hard look at Home Guard weapons:

I have mixed feelings about it, as what I do know about he gets fairly chunky bits of it wrong. However, he also cites all his sources, so it's one of those 'takes your chances'

Part of the problem is that there is no solid all encompassing book on the HG, mainly because there's so much variety it'd be a massive undertaking. I keep on wanting to come back to it... but the work involved is staggering.

There is this very antiquated HG web site:

I can point you towards some of my other articles on the subject, or related to it:
Use of Plastic Armour:

Home Guard Armoured Train:

Only HG to see ground combat:

And from the Dads Army section:
 
Dads Army was a brilliant bit of British comedy.

It parodied ( and magnified ) the ridiculousness of some situations - but war is full of having that potential.

Home Guard would have fought hard on home ground, used their cunning to outwit the enemy, continually attrited the enemy because " I can't run with this piece of kit, going to keep firing from here " and it would have cost Sealion dearly.
 
......Basically the popular 'Oh Dads Army was shit and a joke', gets me very annoyed. Trouble is a lot of historians trot it out when they should know better.

An interesting piece, @Listy. I've seen photos showing some very warry-looking HG units. Medals show a lot of WW1 veterans so the experience was there, and I'd guess motivation wasn't a problem.
 
This chap had a good hard look at Home Guard weapons:

I have mixed feelings about it, as what I do know about he gets fairly chunky bits of it wrong. However, he also cites all his sources, so it's one of those 'takes your chances'

Just remembered this is the guy who tries to suggest that they were trying to give HG tanks... which is a massive 'Oh Dear' moment for me.

Also, for your amusement the dire Bison video by Fletcher:

But of course it's Fletcher, whom is held up as a Sainted font of knowledge. Most of my colleauges have a bit of a cringe when he presents a video on something they specialise in... it's the old SME problem. We're SME's and we know our brief, Fletcher is a generalist.


Dads Army was a brilliant bit of British comedy.

It parodied ( and magnified ) the ridiculousness of some situations - but war is full of having that potential.

Home Guard would have fought hard on home ground, used their cunning to outwit the enemy, continually attrited the enemy because " I can't run with this piece of kit, going to keep firing from here " and it would have cost Sealion dearly.

Average age of the Home Guard was 40. Now a 40 year old farm labourer or Factory worker, from the 1940's can't run with which bit of kit?
 

bestri10

Old-Salt
An interesting piece, @Listy. I've seen photos showing some very warry-looking HG units. Medals show a lot of WW1 veterans so the experience was there, and I'd guess motivation wasn't a problem.
You only have to look at Arnold Ridley (Godfrey in Dads Army) who fought in WW1, returned in WW2 where he was involved in the battle of France and if i remember left Dunkirk on one of the last, if not the last, boats to leave only to go on and serve in the home guard after being medically discharged due to wounds recieved in WW1.
 
Bollocks.

**wheels in soap box**

The Home Guard were very well equipped and trained. One of my colleagues has advanced the theory that the HG were some of the foremost FIBUA experts in the world at the time. Simply because they practiced and trained extensively in their area, which in London was entirely built up. They exchanged information between units as I proved earlier in the year with my Bombard lecture, equally, that lecture shows that they'd have bee able to happily mallet a Panther tank, if not a King Tiger).

The problem is one thing, Dads Army. That has given a very warped view of the Home Guard to everyone. It seems that is the only game in town, and work you do on the HG has to be framed in that context apparently, and its bloody annoying! That said they did get the bravery and feel of the HG right. With the famous scene in at the start of the Dads Army film of the enrolment of the volunteers. Everyone has a ******* sad on for the HG, and immediately waves towards Dads Army as proof. Look at Fletcher's recent video on the Tank Museum website about the Bison. Where he states that the German Para's would have won becuase they're Germans and only up against Home Guard. Lets ignore the fact that it was RAF local Defence troops (Not quite RAF regiment yet, but close) in the Bison, and lets focus on how the FJ are going to over come a mobile bloody bunker that is designed to be a mobile firing point, not an AFV, when the biggest weapon they have is a PzB-39? Even if they've shot everything out (great you now have a five ton wreck in the middle of your landing strip) There's still half a dozen blokes inside with a LMG and rifles waiting to strudel any transports that come in.

As to the role as described, SOP was 'if something happens start shooting!'. Now this sounds really bad, but is it?
Let us consider later in the war, at Arnhem. A few rifle squads were thrown across the Line of advance by the Germans and they slowed the initial movements of the Para's, to the extent the vast majority were unable to reach the bridge and the Operation failed. These rifle squads were just a few blokes with rifles, and the odd LMG.
The Home Guard were a damn sight better equipped than that. Equally, the Fallschirmjager were a damn sight worse equipped than the British Para Divisions.
Equally, you had Mechanised Home Guard battalions for manoeuvre warfare. My local county HG had some seven battalions, one of which was Mechanised. Amongst them they had some 112 Bombards. That is not an insignificant force. Keep in mind a Bombard has the ability to kill any tank coming at it, has no muzzle flash, a ROF of 12 RPM (at max, 6 was considered more standard), basic training gave an accuracy of 66%, If that wasn't enough it had roughly the same effect as a 3-inch mortar. Then you can start piling on the massive amounts of quad AA machine guns, explosives for fun and games stock piled everywhere (look at how the Home Guard extensively went in for IED warfare... ask yourself how the Germans would have fared).

Basically the popular 'Oh Dads Army was shit and a joke', gets me very annoyed. Trouble is a lot of historians trot it out when they should know better.

Pretty much spot on. From one of my books on the HG:

The composition of the Home Guard has always been characterised as primarily men too old to serve in the armed forces. It is undoubtedly true that veterans played a significant role in the Home Guard and many of its officers were ex-regular army who had seen action on the Western Front or in other active theatres. The popular TV series Dad’s Army may well have played a part in reinforcing the prejudice that the Home Guard was made up of the superannuated with a smattering of ‘stupid boys’.
The reality seems to have been very different, however. A study of documents released by the National Archives in 2012 revealed that around half of the 4,000,000 men who served between 1940 and 1945 were under 27 and a third were under 18. Far from being an all-inclusive body that anyone could volunteer for, studies by Professor Penny Summerfield and Corinna Peniston-Bird, published in Contesting Home Defence: men, women and the Home Guard in the Second World War, show that recruitment practices were much more selective than the official line indicated. Indeed, there was heavy criticism from some of those not allowed to join. The documents are worthy of further study but they suggest that the men of the Home Guard were significantly more robust and formidable than the depiction of Captain Mainwaring’s Walmington-on-Sea Platoon would have us believe.
 
Just remembered this is the guy who tries to suggest that they were trying to give HG tanks... which is a massive 'Oh Dear' moment for me.

Also, for your amusement the dire Bison video by Fletcher:

But of course it's Fletcher, whom is held up as a Sainted font of knowledge. Most of my colleauges have a bit of a cringe when he presents a video on something they specialise in... it's the old SME problem. We're SME's and we know our brief, Fletcher is a generalist.




Average age of the Home Guard was 40. Now a 40 year old farm labourer or Factory worker, from the 1940's can't run with which bit of kit?

Yes - the 'Tank' bit is where ideas / jokes about HG can develop. What next ? AA Defence disguised in Butchers vans ?

The German plan was a single, un -breachable Wall from Norway to halfway down France west coast.
We went for strength in depth - lines and lines of well thought out strong points, manned by local lads, armed ( eventually ) with good rifles and MGs and with their family a few hundred yards behind them.

The Germans didn't stand a chance.
 
So lets have a look at the poor Jerry's life...
unknown.png


The two rectangles were firing positions cut into the side of the house, and the area reinforced to protect the shooters. These were subsequently filled in, but you can just make them out.

Or how about this corner to someone's garden:

unknown.png


The wall has been reinforced by concrete on the reverse side and loopholes added.
(both pictures come from the pillbox appreciation society).
Essentially many corner structures in the UK's cities were modified to become firing points with good arcs down the road.


Then you get stuff like this:

On that last point I do have a document somewhere, of someone messaging Churchill talking about the idea of Q-Vans. These are civilian vans that have been armoured to give Jerry a bit of a surprise. He then went on to talk of Q-Caravans, which was a bit much.
 
Ummm, read my above post....

Listy, I can show you disguised pillboxes in many locations within a few miles / hundred yards of where I live.

I agree we may have been able to improvise an armoured vehicle - and done a better job of it than some seen in Middle East today - but there is no evidence of any Armoured HG being more than a trial, what if ? sort of thing
 
Listy, I can show you disguised pillboxes in many locations within a few miles / hundred yards of where I live.

I agree we may have been able to improvise an armoured vehicle - and done a better job of it than some seen in Middle East today - but there is no evidence of any Armoured HG being more than a trial, what if ? sort of thing

Plenty. In my second post there's a post about plastic armour that will help.
 

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