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

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

Just to save time - could you point me to the exact bit of that Post ?
I have checked back to it - and all I see ( and have seen it before ) is a Bovington Tank Museum Post about a vehicle with a Pill Box on top.
The point being - the Pill Box.
Not that it is moved on a lorry quickly to where it is needed.
 

Hopkins

Old-Salt

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.

Having seen Fletchers 'Tank Chats' and some of his other youtube efforts I am somewhat surprised at the awe in which some (including our own @California_Tanker) seem to hold him
 
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.

Morning @Listy,
Thank you for that but who do you think you are kidding Mr.Hitler?;).




Couldn't resist it:D
 
Just to save time - could you point me to the exact bit of that Post ?
I have checked back to it - and all I see ( and have seen it before ) is a Bovington Tank Museum Post about a vehicle with a Pill Box on top.
The point being - the Pill Box.
Not that it is moved on a lorry quickly to where it is needed.
You're looking at the wrong post. The long list of info in reply to dwarfs request. Bit about plastic armour.

(Sorry on my mobile at current)
 

Dwarf

LE
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:
Thanks. That's my holiday reading sorted.
It never ceases to amaze how you can find an expert about almost anything on arrse.
 

Tyk

LE
Thanks. That's my holiday reading sorted.
It never ceases to amaze how you can find an expert about almost anything on arrse.

Indeed, not a few of them are real SME's the number of bluffers are vastly outnumbered (thankfully).

I've done some reading about the Home Guard over the years and it struck me how many men of proper fighting age and fitness were serving in the HG, largely because they were experts in one reserved field or another and couldn't be spared to be in the regular forces.
HG having a selected 4m as a standing force would have been impossible to dislodge permanently as at a push they would have gone full guerrilla mode in an overrun area knowing they had backup prepping a counter attack, they had specialists prepared for exactly that.

Dad's Army was a comedy classic, but does give the wrong impression for obvious reasons.

@Listy has mentioned the bombard and other kit in a couple of threads, I for one would NOT want to be in any panzer on the delivery end of that stuff with a highly motivated Home Guard planning to hand out a monumental shoeing on their own turf.

Quite apart from Sealion being a non starter there's no way in hell a beachhead could have held for any time, let alone a breakout in force.
 
I've done some reading about the Home Guard over the years and it struck me how many men of proper fighting age and fitness were serving in the HG, largely because they were experts in one reserved field or another and couldn't be spared to be in the regular forces.

I actually found something about that the other day:
en20cBw.png


What is interesting is, either Eden or Churchill (not sure whose copy of the report I was reading) had highlighted para 1, and ignored para 2. Either because it was a known issue, was getting fixed, or there was no way in hell it was going to be fixed as it'd allow too many draft dodgers in.
 
Just to save time - could you point me to the exact bit of that Post ?
I have checked back to it - and all I see ( and have seen it before ) is a Bovington Tank Museum Post about a vehicle with a Pill Box on top.
The point being - the Pill Box.
Not that it is moved on a lorry quickly to where it is needed.

Right at my PC now.


Have a look here. Of note are the Unit Construction Plates (Instant bunker in a truck), and the improvised vehicles pictured shortly after that.
 
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?
It should also be understood that these men had been through the Somme, Arras, Third Ypres and the Kaiserschlacht. The argument that these veterans only had experience of static trench warfare does not hold up when measured against the facts of the mobile warfare of summer/autumn 1918.
In short, they had seen the monkey show.
 
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I have just been having a read of the HG Pocket Training Manual. The HG seem to have been armed with a complete ragbag of weapons, at least in the early days (and I mean proper weapons, not bollox like ‘Croft’s pikes’ - little more than a breadknife taped to a broomstick).

RIFLES AND RIFLE SHOOTING
By Lt.-Col. J.A. Barlow, W. York. Regt
You, as one of the Home Guard, may be armed with any one of the following rifles:
a) The .303˝ British Service rifle (S.M.L.E.).
(b) The .303˝ pattern Dec. 14 rifle (P.14).
(c) The .303˝ Canadian Ross rifle (Ross).
(d) The .300˝ U.S.A. 1917 model which looks almost exactly like the British P.14, having been copied from it (Model 17).
(e) The .300˝ U.S.A. Springfield rifle (Springfield).
There must have been an expectation that any rubbish British kit or improvised weapons could be replaced by Gucci German kit if the opportunity arose as the manual also contains instructions for using:
  • MG42
  • MG34
  • Schmeisser
  • Luger
  • 7.92 Mauser
  • Parachutists carbine
  • USW
 

tiv

LE
I have just been having a read of the HG Pocket Training Manual. The HG seem to have been armed with a complete ragbag of weapons, at least in the early days (and I mean proper weapons, not bollox like ‘Croft’s pikes’ - little more than a breadknife taped to a broomstick).

RIFLES AND RIFLE SHOOTING

By Lt.-Col. J.A. Barlow, W. York. Regt
You, as one of the Home Guard, may be armed with any one of the following rifles:
a) The .303˝ British Service rifle (S.M.L.E.).
(b) The .303˝ pattern Dec. 14 rifle (P.14).
(c) The .303˝ Canadian Ross rifle (Ross).
(d) The .300˝ U.S.A. 1917 model which looks almost exactly like the British P.14, having been copied from it (Model 17).
(e) The .300˝ U.S.A. Springfield rifle (Springfield).
There must have been an expectation that any rubbish British kit or improvised weapons could be replaced by Gucci German kit if the opportunity arose as the manual also contains instructions for using:
  • MG42
  • MG34
  • Schmeisser
  • Luger
  • 7.92 Mauser
  • Parachutists carbine
  • USW
Sounds similar to Small Arms Manual by Brigadier J A Barlow and Lt Col R E W Johnson, certainly the spread of weapons is the same. Mind, it ran to at least three editions, the one I have being the third from 1944.
 
Right at my PC now.


Have a look here. Of note are the Unit Construction Plates (Instant bunker in a truck), and the improvised vehicles pictured shortly after that.
Fascinating read, and Interesting that just after the war, references to ‘plastic armour’ disappear, then ‘suddenly’ Chobham armour appears.
 
Fascinating read, and Interesting that just after the war, references to ‘plastic armour’ disappear, then ‘suddenly’ Chobham armour appears.
Well there's a 20 year gap between the two. But there's quite a lot of similarity, such as both can only be cast in flat slabs, both provide excellent protection against HEAT. Also consider how some forms of composite armours use high density metals inside to create sheer forces on the projectile.

Of course those who do know are either laughing at me, or saying 'oh damn, we should have tackled that!'
 
I tried to add the following manuals to ARRSE media but it does not like the .PDF format:
  • Home Guard Pocket Training Manual
  • Home Guard Manual 1941
  • The British Home Guard
If anyone wants them send me a PM. They are all obviously out of copyright etc and I doubt if they are a breach of the OSA.

Edit: One of those books is the one shown in the programme.
 
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Well there's a 20 year gap between the two. But there's quite a lot of similarity, such as both can only be cast in flat slabs, both provide excellent protection against HEAT. Also consider how some forms of composite armours use high density metals inside to create sheer forces on the projectile.

Of course those who do know are either laughing at me, or saying 'oh damn, we should have tackled that!'
My mate worked at Barnbow developing Chieftain and any mention of chobham just got a ‘look’…
I saw the Bison at Bovvy last week and was initially amused (in a Dads Army kind of way) but in retrospect, having half a dozen of those blocking the roads round your beachhead or straddling your runway would be very inconvenient.
My grandfather saw Afghan 2 and the trenches of WW1 (wounded, gassed and taken prisoner); I pity any fallschirmjäger landing in a tree in his back garden, most likely a short interview with a sharpened shovel…
So Seelöwe is a disaster, Italy surrenders and the remains of the Wehrmacht are rolled up by the Comrades, I think that episode of Dad’s Army is still in a can in the archives…
 

4(T)

LE
It should also be understood that these men had been through the Somme, Arras, Third Ypres and the Kaiserschlacht. In short, they had seen the monkey show.


There were about 3 million WW1 veterans knocking around in 1940, many in their healthy early 40s.

I think one aspect that is overlooked about these men is not so much their actual combat potential, but the fact that they were familiar with the whole Army system - roles, responsibilities, logistics, processes, orders, formation SoPs, how to dig a trench or stand a stag, working routines - even down to putting on boots and maintaining personal administration. I.e. all the stuff that normally takes recruits months or years to assimilate.

Theres an account somewhere of a VSO reviewing a newly-formed HG formation and being astonished at how professional they'd become after just two or three weeks in uniform.


Incidentally, my grandparents - young adults in WW2 - actually felt Dads Army was an accurate representation of the type of HG unit that formed in the smaller towns and villages. A lot of the characters and (mis)adventures portrayed in the series were drawn from popular anecdotes of the time.

Evidently the units formed in large cities from a greater pool of veterans were a different beast.
 
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.
An excellent and well-argued post and I have a feeling you are pretty much preaching to the converted here.

But one point I would have to ask is when you think the HG had reached the state of armament and readiness they did? I am quite sure those Bison would indeed have been a rough and ready obstacle to any landing, I am also sure that a 40yo old veteran of the Western Front with a decent rifle and a good supply of ammunition positioned in solid static defence would have ruined the day of many of the Third Reich's finest, but when would all of this have been available?

Given that most people would agree that really the only time an invasion of Britain was seriously contemplated was the early autumn of 1940 is it not the case that the HG, like the rest of the British Army would have been caught very short indeed? An invasion in 1942 or 43 might have been a turkey shoot for the superbly trained and equipped, by that stage, HG but can you be so confident that in September 1940 the same would have applied?
 
An excellent and well-argued post and I have a feeling you are pretty much preaching to the converted here.

But one point I would have to ask is when you think the HG had reached the state of armament and readiness they did? I am quite sure those Bison would indeed have been a rough and ready obstacle to any landing, I am also sure that a 40yo old veteran of the Western Front with a decent rifle and a good supply of ammunition positioned in solid static defence would have ruined the day of many of the Third Reich's finest, but when would all of this have been available?

Given that most people would agree that really the only time an invasion of Britain was seriously contemplated was the early autumn of 1940 is it not the case that the HG, like the rest of the British Army would have been caught very short indeed? An invasion in 1942 or 43 might have been a turkey shoot for the superbly trained and equipped, by that stage, HG but can you be so confident that in September 1940 the same would have applied?

Early 1941.

Keep in mind that there were a lot more small arms in civilian life than now.
Again drawing from the local HG. Eden's address for the LDV was broadcast on, if memory serves, Tuesday evening. A fully armed guard, with rifles, of about 10-12 LDV we're on duty at the local GPO until the Saturday.
Think about how a lot of schools had shooting teams, and how much less restrictive the firearms laws were then

I recently found a list of all factories where HG were responsible for the AA defence and weapons. The weapons were mostly quad mounts for either Marlins or Lewis guns.

I think the croft pikes thing is overplayed.
 

Dwarf

LE
An excellent and well-argued post and I have a feeling you are pretty much preaching to the converted here.

But one point I would have to ask is when you think the HG had reached the state of armament and readiness they did? I am quite sure those Bison would indeed have been a rough and ready obstacle to any landing, I am also sure that a 40yo old veteran of the Western Front with a decent rifle and a good supply of ammunition positioned in solid static defence would have ruined the day of many of the Third Reich's finest, but when would all of this have been available?

Given that most people would agree that really the only time an invasion of Britain was seriously contemplated was the early autumn of 1940 is it not the case that the HG, like the rest of the British Army would have been caught very short indeed? An invasion in 1942 or 43 might have been a turkey shoot for the superbly trained and equipped, by that stage, HG but can you be so confident that in September 1940 the same would have applied?
Wiki gives a fair bit about kit, as a swift overall resume it seemed OK. Now whether it's accurate.........
 
Plenty. In my second post there's a post about plastic armour that will help.


I have seen pictures somewhere of at least a couple of AEC lorries carrying concrete pillpoxes built on the back.
May be in a book somwhere in the garage, It may take me some time to find.....

ETA, I'll pay more attantion next time, its the Bison you've already reffered to

1623938091300.png

1623938135643.png
 

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