An Armband of the Bucks Local Defence Volunteers, May 1940

The LDV armband was acquired by the Trust with material relating to both the 4th Bucks (Marlow) and 7th Bucks (High Wycombe) Home Guard Battalions. There are a number of possibilities as to the identification of the ‘H’. The Hughenden and Hazelmere platoons were both in the 4th Battalion in what became ‘B’ (Wycombe County) Company. In the material there is also a later photograph of ‘E’ (Stokenchurch) Company in the 4th Battalion, which included a Hambleden platoon. It may be, therefore, that the Hambleden Platoon is a more likely fit than Hughenden or Hazlemere. 

The armband is home-made from what appears to be an upholsterer’s webbing strap. This was not unusual. In the Iver Heath platoon in the 6th Bucks (Taplow) Battalion, the first LDV arm bands were made from Great War puttees sewn with white tape. The first official armbands obtained by the 4th Battalion from 22 May onwards had LDV in black stencilled on white material. As there were not enough, the commanding officer, Major Henry Beaumont of States House, Medmenham, obtained a private supply but these were soon replaced by khaki stencilled in black. This suggests that this particular armband was in use between 14 and 22 May 1940.

The armband testifies to the improvised nature of the LDV in the summer of 1940. Initially, weapons were also in particularly short supply. On 28 May 1940 what was to become ‘C’ Company of the 1st (Aylesbury) Battalion possessed 27 .303 rifles, seven 2.2” rifles, and 50 shotguns for 286 men split between Ellesborough, Prestwood, The Lee, Stoke Mandeville, Great Missenden, and Aston Clinton.

As is well known the Secretary of State for War in Churchill’s new coalition government, Anthony Eden, went on the air immediately after the BBC 9 p.m. news on 14 May 1940. Any man aged between 17 and 65 with a knowledge of firearms and ‘capable of free movement’ could register with the police to join the LDV. At Haddenham, 158 men registered in the first 24 hours and at Marlow a queue had formed within two hours of the broadcast. There were 4,076 men registered in Bucks by 17 May, 5,560 by 24 May, and 18,665 by August 1940. On 23 July the new title of Home Guard was chosen by Churchill, who saw the rhetorical and cultural resonance of ‘home’ in national defence.

Bucks eventually produced 13 battalions. The first seven organised formally in August 1940 were the 1st (Aylesbury), 2nd (Bletchley), 3rd (Buckingham), 4th (Marlow), 5th (Beaconsfield), 6th (Taplow), and 7th (High Wycombe) Battalions. Three more were created from within the 6th Battalion in November 1940: the 8th (Slough Trading Estate), 9th (Slough Borough) and 10th (Langley) Battalions. The 11th (Amersham) Battalion was formed from the 5th Battalion in 1942; the 12th (Winslow) Battalion in October 1942; and the 13th (Hawker Aircraft Factory) Battalion from the 10th in 1943. The 6th Battalion was disbanded in 1942 since most of its remaining men, as well as some from the 8th, 9th and 10th Battalions were transferred to the 101st (Bucks Home Guard) Rocket AA (or ‘Z’) Battery at Slough in June 1942 and the 71st (Bucks and Berks) HAA Battery with 3.7” guns, also at Slough, in November 1942.

Whatever the later popular image of’ Dad’s Army’, the Home Guard became a militarily efficient force by 1943-44, fulfilling a wide variety of roles. Operational duties were suspended on 6 September 1944 and the Home Guard was stood down on 31 December 1944. On Stand Down, the Bucks Home Guard received two OBE, six MBEs, and four BEMs.


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