The Home Guard
In 1940 an appeal for volunteers was made to men in reserved occupations and those in the 40 – 60 age group, many of whom had experience of the 1914 – 1918 war. The Home Guard was therefore founded in May 1940. At that time it was named Local Defence Volunteers but by July 1940 the alternative name The Home Guard was being used, though it wasn’t until 1942 that the name was officially changed.
The force was open initially to male British subjects. Subsequently, in September 1940, “persons” was substituted for “British subjects” after much comment that many worthy people were excluded unnecessarily. Women were never admitted but were later allowed to enrol as auxiliaries to the Home Guard.
The purpose of the force was to resist an actual or apprehended invasion. The voluntary nature of the force was later changed by a power conferred on the Ministry of Labour and National Service to compel any male British subject to enrol in the Home Guard.
Never having to fulfil their primary purpose of guarding the Home Front, the force was disbanded at the end of the Second World War.
In 1950 at the height of the Cold War there were calls for the Home Guard to be re-established.
The Home Guard was finally stood down on July 31 1957 on the basis that while its existence had been justified during the Korean crisis, it was now, for various reasons, no longer required.
Barnes Home Guard Association
The districts of Barnes and Mortlake were covered by “B” company of the 27th County of London Battalion Home Guard with company headquarters in The Larches in Sheen Lane, just round the corner from the present Club house. The comradeship, devoid of class distinction, which all members had enjoyed in the service of their country, decided members of “B” company to form an after-the-war-association to perpetuate this friendship irrespective of rank and position in civilian life. Major S V Hicks who was in command of “B” Company at the end of the war was a prime mover in the formation of the Association and became its first President The inaugural meeting was held on 16 October 1944.
Premises were sought. Cyril Bottomley discovered that the tennis club in Richmond Park Road known as the Sheen House Hard Court Ltd, the site we now occupy, was for sale. Barnes (HG) Co Ltd was formed and incorporated 9 June 1945 with share capital subscribed by ex-Home Guard members to fund the purchase of the site which was acquired on 20 August 1945. The Clubhouse at that time could better be described as a cricket pavilion. The association continued to flourish, although membership was open only to ex Home guard personnel.
The Association completed the purchase of the property from Barnes (HG) Co Ltd on 7 January 1970 at a very moderate sum in the hope that future members would maintain the spirit of the Home Guard and give their services freely with enthusiasm. In the early 70’s plans were submitted to build a new clubhouse which when completed in 1977 was officially opened in April of that year by Cyril Bottomley who was the driving force in acquiring the site and guiding the affairs on the Association since its inception.
Home Guard – extract from “Farewell to Dad’s Army” by Sheena N McMurtrie, New Law Journal April 26 1996.
Barnes Home Guard Association – extract from News Sheet by G B Mills, Honorary Secretary at the time, for official opening of the new club house 7 April 1977