ULSTER HOME GUARD
Like many other people growing up during the 1970's and the subsequent years I watched with amusement the television to enjoy the exploits of 'Dad's Army' on Saturday nights. The Warmington on Sea platoon under the command of Captain Mainwaring were right at the edge of the front line; based in a village on the south coast of England, the threat of invasion from the Nazi war machine was a daily reality. In comparison the film 'Whiskey Galore' depicts a Home Guard unit based in the highlands and islands of Scotland where the risk of invasion was considered significantly less. While watching these programmes I never gave much thought to the Home Guard in Northern Ireland always assuming that the situation here must have reflected that in the rest of the United Kingdom.
A number of years ago I discovered that my Grandfather and two of his brothers served in a County Down platoon of the Ulster Home Guard. His answers to my questions started to make me realise that my earlier assumptions may not have been totally correct. In turn this led me to further investigate the background and activities of the UHG. Any commercially available books presently available about the Home Guard in the United Kingdom tend to concentrate on the formation and activities within Great Britain, or specific battalions, with only an appendix or few lines about the Ulster Home Guard. This lack of depth and relevant information inspired me to investigate further.
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When the Local Defence Volunteers (the fore-runner of the Home Guard) were formed in Great Britain their formation was not extended to Northern Ireland. In response the Inspector General of the Royal Ulster Constabulary offered the Northern Ireland Prime Minister the services of the Ulster Special Constabulary to fill the gap and fulfil the role under taken by the LDV's in Great Britain. This resulted in the formation of the Local Defence Volunteers Section, Ulster Special Constabulary.
The additional duties which accompanied this new role were to oppose airborne invasion and to counter fifth columnists, in the guise of the IRA and their co-conspirators. According to the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill the latter was unique to Northern Ireland, as a fifth column did not exist on mainland Britain. German Airborne landings, assisted by the IRA south of the border were also a major fear, therefore in response rapid deployment plans were drawn up to concentrate USC platoons and liaise with local military forces to counter this possibility.
Later the LDV's in Northern Ireland were reformed as the Ulster Home Guard under military command and uniformed in khaki battle dress. The USC however were retained in the cities of Belfast and Londonderry to help the RUC with the large concentrated numbers of civilian population. In these two cities specific Home Guard units were also raised.
I feel that it's about time that the story was told about the forgotten warriors, a number of whom, too young to join the regular army, used the Ulster Home Guard as a spring board to join other regiments, fighting in very different theaters around the world.
I have run a number of small exhibitions on the UHG at various militaria events in Northern Ireland in an effort to raise public interest and to obtain more information for my research into this forgotten force. I have spoken with a number of ex-members and I my intention is to prepare a history of the UHG formation nd activities during those dark days of WWII when the threat of invasion loomed large.
If you or you know someone who served in the UHG during the war I would appreciate your help with my research by supplying any information you can and/or answering some simple questions:
Date of Joining:______/_____/______ Date of leaving:_____/_____/______
Names of others in platoon:___________________________________________________
Other military or Police service:________________________________________________
Medals or awards:__________________________________________________________
E-Mail me with any assistance, details
or photographs you can.....Thanks!
After Dunkirk Winston Churchill, remarked that the only properly armed and disciplined force left in the United Kingdom was the Ulster Special Constabulary.