which Home Guard unit? race course training location

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by rrickoshae, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. rrickoshae

    rrickoshae Member

    OK, so here are a few from a large number of private Home Guard photos of a unit training somewhere in the UK. As usual, no locations or details. Can anyone identify the horse racing location? Apparently given over to a military training area for the duration. And what HG unit? Note the platoon transport is a Frigidaire lorry and a furniture van. Note also the large dark coloured 'S' being worn below the Home Guard titles - what was this? But you've just got to love the last photo of the bespectacled private with his well deserved mug of tea!

    Photos sent as 2 posts.

    Dave
     

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  2. ARPCDHG

    ARPCDHG Member

    Brilliant photos Dave, from summer 1943 (- no service chevrons yet).

    The 'S' cloth badge stood for 'S' Zone, which from memory was in Middlesex. More details about it in Mills' book.
     
  3. rrickoshae

    rrickoshae Member

    thats brilliant, many thanks for the fast response, Dave
     
  4. CTNana

    CTNana Member Patron

    Not sure if this is relevant:-

    I don't know why but I immediately thought west country when I looked at the photos.

    I googled Frigidaire

    http://www.buswells.co.uk/company-history/?oo=0

    who were the parent company based in south west.
     
  5. rrickoshae

    rrickoshae Member

    thats interesting, maybe the Frigidaire lorry was from one of the outstationed depots. Perhaps someone will recognise the racecourse or even the street that the soldiers are marching down. Many thanks, we're getting near to a complete answer I suspect!

    Dave
     
  6. CTNana

    CTNana Member Patron

    I found a Frigidaire factory in Kingsbury and a race course at Northolt? I lived for most of my life in North London and had no idea of the latter. Presumably they could have been driven a reasonable distance for training manouvres?
     
  7. rrickoshae

    rrickoshae Member

    that could be it, and the aircraft used in the excercise could be one of the fighter squadrons based at Northolt. It would make sense to travel to the area if the race course had been set up as a HG training area, its not that far from Middlesex and obviously had extensive training facilities. When I have a bit of time, I'll search for historical details of the race course.
    many thanks, dave
     
  8. CTNana

    CTNana Member Patron

    Close to Hendon & Stanmore too of course. Perhaps one of the guys who knows more about planes could identify where they are likely to have been based.
     
  9. rrickoshae

    rrickoshae Member

    have had a quick look at the history of the race course and I think you are right. The aerial photos of the site fit with the bits visible in my photos - well done that man!

    The race course also housed a POW camp and in the background of a photo that I didn't post are typical barbed wire fencing. I think you've hit the nail on the head.

    In the photo of the men lying in the grass so that the aircraft don't see them, there is a Smith gun but you need a magnifying glass to see it. I'll post some more of the photos as and when
     
  10. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  11. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Well done, everyone, for figuring out Northolt Park Racecourse - news to me despite living all my life, so far, within 6 miles of where it was! I'd even go so far, despite Clive's alternate suggestion, as to pinpoint hg11.jpg at the centre of this 1935 OS 25" map extract (c/o Old Maps) ...
    1935 - map - OS 25'' centred on hg11 location (Old Maps).png
    ... the men emerging, past the end of Wood End Ln, from Pett's Hill down into Ealing (now Mandeville) Rd.

    As for Northolt generally, Dave, that was and still is very much in Middlesex!

    And it's near enough to Southall - the home of the 10th Mx Bn HG to which my dad belonged with no hint of an 'S' badge AFAIK - for me to wonder if someone can please enlighten me on HG zones. But I'll not let that stop me speculating on these vague doppelgagers for 2 of your more prominent characters:
    * Nearly central in hg1.jpg - Pte Lyons 1944-10 - photo - Home Guard, 4th Middx Battalion, F Coy - Pte Lyons crop.jpg ?
    * Subject of hg12.jpg - Pte Cross 1942 - photo - Middx Home Guard, 10th Battn, A Coy, No 3 Platoon - Pte Cross crop.jpg or Pte Watson 1944-10 - photo - Home Guard, 4th Middx Battalion, F Coy - Pte Watson crop.jpg ?

    And I'd also go so far as to suggest the Frigidaire lorry was something of a red herring given that the Army commandeered vehicles for HG use - a case in point being my dad given the use of a saloon car thus acquired.

    Steve

    Edit: typo
     
  12. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  13. rrickoshae

    rrickoshae Member

    that is all excellent stuff, thank you all very much and yes Notholt is still in Middlesex! A lesson for us all though, if we take photos of interesting things, write down the why where & when on the back - saves so much trouble (I appreciate that during the period in question, that was not permitted).

    If you don't mind I've attached a few more photos.

    Dave
     

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  14. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    A few more crumbs & observations:

    [*]26 Apr '42: Another National Army Museum inventory item 14867 - "Photograph album of 30 photographs presented to Col Sir Philip Carlebach CMG, to mark the occasion of his inspection of 21st Middlesex Bn Home Guard, 26 Apr 1942." - the 21st being definitely non-local from way up in Barnet (ref. Structure of the Home Guard)
    [*]7 May '42: MovieTone news clip 'Toughening Up the Home Guard' - with this shot list:
    "1. Long shots and close-ups of the tough training and methods of unarmed combat.
    "2. Close-up of chief instructor, Sergeant Mickey Wood, light-weight wrestling champion of GB.
    "3. Shot of Sir Philip Carleback, CMG, Commander of S Zone HG who watches combat." (sic) though I can't spot him!
    [*]It couldn't have been Lingfield Park, BTW, if only because its grandstands had gable, not shed, roofs
    Steve

    PS: The Airfield Information Exchange forum thread 'SECOND WORLD WAR - Home Guard Battalions for 30 June 1944' narrows the choice to 6 battalions:
    "LONDON DISTRICT"
    "North-West Sub-District, S Sector
    "No.1 Battalion 19th Middlesex (Elstree), No.2 Battalion 20th Middlesex (Golders Green), No.3 Battalion 21st Middlesex (Barnet), No.4 Battalion 22nd Middlesex (Stanmore), No.5 Battalion 23rd Middlesex (Edgware), No.6 Battalion 24th Middlesex (Mill Hill)"
     
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  15. rrickoshae

    rrickoshae Member

    that really is great Steve, thank you for your effort in finding all this. Much appreciated, and a little bit more history added to the collection of photos.

    Dave
     
  16. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    As far as I am Aware both Hurricanes and Spifires were based at Northolt and the two photographs showing low flying planes are I believe, Spitfires in the first and Hurricanes in the second.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  17. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Thanks for that Dave ... I'm only too glad to help and learn at the same time!

    And yes RAF Northolt definitely used both types Tom - as incidentally confirmed by this slightly-tangential curio I bagged in 2009 (luckily, it seems, as I can't now relocate it online!) ...
    251137491.jpg

    But, inexpertly & objectively back on track, I think Spits in both photos - based on the leading a/c's pointy port wingtip in 'p2' and the twin air-scoops of all 3 in 'hg7'. That, together with 306 (Torun) Sqn swapping Hurris for Spits in Jul '41, then nicely agrees with my theory that these photos show their 12 Jul '42 practice attacks.

    Also contrarily, I'm not altogether convinced all 20 of these photos are of the same event - the most apparent misfits being:
    * 'hg4' - watery ditch but no natural water-sources in hilltop Northolt Park area to fill it
    * 'hg10' - distinctive gable house roofs which I can't find in Northolt Park area
    * 'p5' - not Northolt Fire Station's hose-drying tower atop hill as yet unbuilt (ref. Northolt Fire Station celebrates 50 years 11 Mar '13)

    Steve
     
  18. rrickoshae

    rrickoshae Member

    thanks Steve, I hadn't considered that the photos may not have been taken at the same time/place. Thats a bit of a conundrum.

    The aircraft are all early Marks of Spitfire, either Mk11 or MkV, the latter being delivered to squadrons during the summer of 1941 so that helps tie the date in a bit.

    The water filled ditch is freshly dug, with no normal river side foliage and no through flow. Perhaps the local fire brigade filled it up for them. Note also the round camouflaged pill box in the background of this photo, would there have been one at the racecourse?

    I've attached the last 2 photos which show officers on the race course and what I think are troops hiding under their capes, possibly to avoid detection from the air but it also shows housing in the background - as well as the bell tents.

    Dave
     

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  19. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Bingo! Long story short, Dave, that last photo (p2) and your previous p2 (with post 13) were taken looking SE out of the southern end of Northolt Park - the clincher being the very distinctive multi-chimnied roofline of the Load of Hay (now the Mandeville Arms):
    Perhaps you're right about the wet ditch photo given the scale of the exercise and what seems to be the same type of barbed-wire-topped fencing as that seen from outside in photo hg11. Rambling on, though, between the 2 men running along the far bank there's also what looks like a square brick pillar/gatepost topped by a pyramidical concrete block and, if that is a gateway, then the ditch looks like winding its way toward and perhaps through it - weird!

    And I agree with your pillbox interpretation - even though non-standard (i.e. not Type 25) and weirdly dressed in a conspicuous 'Chinese hat' apparently at odds with its disruptive camouflage painting. Then again, using a bit of double-think, it could just be a canvas pillbox mock-up for the purposes of the exercise! Oh and that squat cone also reminds me, finally BTW, to ask which photo has your Smith gun and whether we're meant to be able to spot it too?

    Steve
     
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  20. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    A bit more insight ...
    • 'Northolt: Economic and social history', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4: Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood with Southall, Hillingdon with Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow with Pinner (1971), pp. 116-117. - final paragraph:
    • Northolt Town Centre's Historic Walk - Ealing Council (2.1MB PDF) - WALK YOUR BOROUGH - Northolt Walking Route - Northolt Racecourse:
    • 'Northolt: Local government', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4: Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood with Southall, Hillingdon with Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow with Pinner (1971), pp. 117-119. - end of paragraph 5 (of 7) ...
      ... revealing the 1928 postcard to be of the earlier workhouse building and just going to show how tricky it can be trying match views from different angles!
    • This week's BBC4 repeat of Real History of Britain s1e6 (Britain's Home Guard) featured a 7s clip (26'15" to 26'23" in) about a dummy pillbox - subtitled as follows:
      A] "Surely that pill box is a bit obvious, isn't it?"
      B] "Yes, sir. Decoy." ... "Position covered from over there."
      Anyone wanting to catch the whole ½hr episode can find it on BBC iPlayer ("Available until 7:59PM Wed, 5 Mar 2014" this time around)
    Steve
     

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