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Home Gaurd

I am  writing a disertation with the working title of 'How did the experiences of the Newbury Home Guard differ from those around the country?' I say working title as I am yet to speak to or find out a huge amount the Newbury Home Guard itself!

Therefore, I am thinking of widening the title, as  have been in contact with a number of people from the surrounding area, East End and Hungerford for example. I wonder if you might have any information yourselves regarding the Newbury Home Guard, or that of Thatcham and your surround area. Perhaps you might even have any veterans, which would be brilliant!

Kind regards,
Max Girdler


Dear Max

Your dissertation looks interesting. It is not clear how long/big it is but I suggest you go for a broader area rather than just limiting it to Newbury. Finding records of the Home Guard is more difficult than finding records of most British Army units who have war diaries (however scanty) lodged at Kew.

You may find that the duties of the HG in these towns was not dramatically different than the HG elsewhere. One of the differences was that in 1940 the 'Blue Line' - a 'Stop Line' along the Kennet and Avon Canal - was constructed and Newbury and Hungerford were to be defended as major roads crossed the canal in these towns. The respective Home Guards were to defend these. there is a good website on the defences in Hungerford and the definitive book is 'Ironside's Line' by Colin Alexander.

Contact me if you'd like to discuss more.



PS I am researching these defences and would be interested in contacting anyone who can recall structures, pillboxes, antitank blocks, ditches etc along the Kennet and Avon, including a hexagonal anti-tank gun pit near Thatcham station.


You've hit the nail on the head. Im putting the first half of my dissertation (8000 words) aside to the Blue Line. I've got my hands on Colin Alexander's book, among others and have already dedicated a section to the Milford Lock, on Hungerford Common. I will be writing further on the relationship betweent the Home Guard and the Field Army regarding these defences.

The difference in experiences I'm trying to argue is that the Newbury and District area Home Guards had much more potential responsibility than others, centered around this stop line. Of course the Home Guard battalions of the coastal areas obviously had more potential responsibility, but also had the presence of much more Field Army and specilised units. Those on the Stop Lines were to be eventually relived in the case of an invasion, but until that time, were on their own.

If you've got anything that could be of use, I'd hugely appricate it, and perhaps you could contact me at xxxxxxxxx.

Thanks for getting back to me,



Hi, I read your request regarding pillboxes along the Kennet and Avon. As a child, some 55 years ago - I'm now 66 year of age, the canal was a magnet. I seem to remember three or four such structures along the tow path, with one particularly near Hambridge Road. One or two of them being close to the railway line.

From one of the structures, if you stood on top, the start of the 6 furlongs (the straight?) at Newbury racecourse was visible. They were all extremely insanitary and unpleasant places; probably not for children though.

Having walked along the path into Newbury, over 20 years ago, none of these structures seemed to exist, or at least I couldn't see them.

Original Great Western Railway plaques were attached to posts, but I suspect these have all gone to collectors by now.

Do you remember the brick structure that was built on the green, now long gone, in the Thatcham Broadway: it was opposite where Tanner's used to be.

Happy days.

PS/ I found your request as a consequence of trying to research Farmer Smart, who may have owned Chamberhouse Farm in the 1750s: an unpleasant man by all accounts.

Would love to hear all you have found out. My late father, John Gray Neville known as Jack, was in the Home guard - we lived in Enborne Row near Washcommon. I have been wondering how I could find out details about which unit he served in