The Home Front : Working and Volunteering

Factory Work

From December 1941, all women aged 18 to 50, except those exempted, had to do National Service. They could either join one of the uniformed women’s services, or seek work in a factory. They worked in factories making munitions, planes, trains and ships. Women also laboured in construction, cut down trees, worked on farms and drove trucks.

The postcard is from Iris Pipe who worked at a Westland Factory at Martock. She was writing to her mother Mrs. Tom Pipe at New Cross, West Lambrook. Postcard from the album of Hazel Manning-Johal.

Westland Workers, Martock.

Iris Pipe, front row, far right – mother of Hazel Manning-Johal. Iris was a lathe operator, in the manufacture of aircraft parts.

Many of the women workers are wearing caps and a type of overall/uniform.

Blood Donors

Do you have any photographs/documents relating to war work in this area? Please contact us.

The Home Guard and Special Constabulary

The Home Guard formed in 1940 and was responsible for protecting the civilian population from invading forces, including enemy parachute landings. They were considered to be the last line of defence. The Home Guard were volunteers who were not eligible for military service – those who were too young, too old or in reserved occupations, such as agriculture.

Learning rifle drill – Buckhurst Hill, Essex.

Initially called the Local Defence Volunteers, by the end of July 1940 over 1 million men had joined and the name was changed to the Home Guard, which was thought to be more inspiring. In the early days, they had little equipment and no uniform, just an armband.

Men who had served in the First World War, but were too old for military service in the Second World War, were known as the “Old Contemptibles”.

Tom Pipe worked in agriculture, which was a reserved occupation during war time. He worked with shire houses, ploughing on local farms, particularly New Cross Farm, West Lambrook. He was 64 years old in 1939, so he volunteered for the Home Guard. He also did black-out duties, which was the work of the ARP wardens (Air Raid Precaution wardnes) – making sure no houses were showing any lights at night which might aid enemy aircraft.

Photo from the archive of Hazel Manning-Johal, his grand-daughter.

A short film : Graham Bradford – the Home Guard, American Sweets and Food rationing

Kingsbury Episcopi Home Guard Platoon 1942

Back Row : L/Cpl.Bert Talbot (KE Silver Band Bandmaster; Herbie Lock; John Hebditch; Walter Lock (WW1 Veteran – one of the Old Contemptibles); Maurice Packe (Baker); Fred Lock; Unknown; Unknown; Bob Mounter; Len Duck; Jack Smith; Bob Martin; Norman Paull; Unknown; Fred Hallett.

Middle Row : Will Bradford; Bert Gillett; Mick Follet; Ben Oaten; Jeff Derby; Jack Mounter; Arthur Brake; Albert Brake (father & son); Ron Talbot; Cpl.Fred Reed; Harry ‘Heeny’ Lock; Len Stuckey; Bob Duck; Unknown; Ern Duck; Charlie Elliott.

Front Row : Cpl.Fred Russ; Cpl.Headley Savage; Cpl Don Thomas (schoolmaster); Cpl.Leonard Jacobs; Sgt.Frank Jennings; 2nd Lt.Frank Parris; Lt.Tom Salt; Sgt Major Tom Norris (ex-regular, one of the Old Comtemptibles); Bert Hodder (stone mason for Ralph Fry); Sgt.Charlie Russ; Charlie Watts; Will Mounter; Herb Westlake; Percy Clarke; Ken Duck; Harry Lock.

Other members of the platoon included: Lewis Male; Joseph Hebditch; Fred Paull; Cpl.Cecil Legg; Ted Elliott; Bert Bradford; Tom Pipe; Percy Satterly; Walter Townsend; Mr.Quantock; Will Grinter. Ben Stone, D.C.M. was also a member of the Platoon, awarded a D.C.M. in 1917 at Zebrugge.

The Kingsbury Episcopi Home Guard Platoon stores were held in a Nissen hut, round the back of Home Farm, Kingsbury Episcopi, shown left.

In the early days of the war, a look-out was undertaken on top of Burrow Hill. Being an extremely exposed site, an Austin car body was taken up the hill to provide protection for the look-outs. It was probably from here that Ben Stone reported “Two parachutists landing at Westmoor”. Bill Elliott relates what happened next in the film below.

A short film : Bill Elliott : ARP Wardens and the Home Guard in the Parish

Letter to Walter James Townsend, Home Guard, from King George VI.

From the archive of his grandson, Kevin Cox.

Home Guard duties included guarding the Railway Viaduct at Langport in conjunction with other platoons.

At Manor Farm, Kingsbury Episcopi, the roof of the cow stall was surmounted by a sand-bagged gun emplacement to cover the road from Martock.

It is believed that Cecil Legg kept the Platoon’s Spigot Mortar at the Milk Depot, Thorney Halt.

Gawbridge Mill had some sort of Home Guard weapons depot. On the door of one of the barns there is an assortment of pencil graffiti from this era, including ammunition calculations and doodles of portraits of Churchill, Mussolini and Hitler, with names of the some of the Home Guard.

A short film – the Gawbridge Mill Graffiti

Men unable to enlist for military service also volunteered for The Special Constabulary.

The Special Constabulary is a voluntary, part-time organisation, part of the police forces in the UK. In WW2 more volunteers were needed to enforce the wartime restrictions and regulations including rationing and blackout, as well as having powers of arrest for crimes.

The Special Constabulary – outside Huish Episcopi School.

Earle Male back row, 3rd from right – from the family album of Hugh and Les Male, his sons.

A short film : Graham Bradford – the Mock Attack

Do you have any photographs, documents or stories relating to work or volunteering in our area during the war years 1939-45? Please contact us.