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Air Raids and Evacuation

The Home Guard

Threats from the air were not the only danger to the people of Britain. From the very beginning of the war one of the biggest fears was invasion.

‘We were being upset. It was still quite vivid and when war was declared we were expectin' invasion. We were expectin' them to walk down the road with their jack boots but that didnae happen.’

In Scotland, defences were established all along the coastline, for example, there were large guns placed on Inchkeith Island in the Firth of Forth to protect Rosyth naval base. These were seen as very important as German forces occupied France, Belgium and the Netherlands from early on in the war and could have used this area as a base to invade Britain. In the event of an invasion civilians would be called upon to help defend the country and citizens joined the Local Defence Volunteers (later renamed the Home Guard) to ‘do their bit’. The Home Guard had little equipment to fight with at the beginning of the war; some members were even forced to do their training using garden tools and chairlegs. Due to their lack of weapons, the fact that few of them had uniforms and that many were over 40 (the age limit for military service), some people made fun of the Home Guard. They began to call it Dad's Army.

‘Ah can remember the Dad's Army. There wis an auld guy in the next flat below us and he wis like Captain Mainwaring. But they took it serious and on a Sunday morning ye used tae see them, hear the tackety boots comin' roond the corner and signalling to one another. Ah wish you could see it, they were on their tummy crawlin'. Ah wis watchin' frae the windae. There wis maybe about twenty and then they wid do their drill.’    

Although people made fun of them, some historians have pointed out how important they were. For example, one historian, Peter Fleming, said that in 1940 it would have been impossible to train all the soldiers needed if they had to keep watch on Britain's 5,000 miles of coastline at the same time.

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