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Laceby Dads Army

A Talk Fred Partner Gave to Laceby History Group, September 1979

This month has been the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 so I've done a thinking exercise about that great force no longer with us - 'the Home Guard'.

The LACEBY Home Guard was part of the 5th Lindsey Battalion with a Platoon under Capt. Spilman. When I arrived on the scene it had grown into a Company of 3 Platoons & Capt. Spilman was promoted to Major. The LACEBY Company paraded at least twice & mostly 3 times a week plus nightly patrols. This included every Sunday morning from 9am finishing at 12noon just in time for the pubs opening! But seriously, when a man had been at work from 7am to 6pm then have to go on parade from 7.30pm-lOpm, I was very often a little weary & would have liked a little lie-in on Sunday but attendance was compulsory.

On joining the H.G. towards the end of 1940 I reported for my uniform, which by this time was full battledress not denims as in earlier days. The uniform I received from the H.G. was the best fitting one I ever had in all my time in the forces. With the uniform were boots, 1~14 webbing. & an old type Canadian Ross rifle.

The date on the butt I remember, was 1908 & what a weight! So marchingchome that night with all the gear & not the faintest idea of how to use it I considered I was a happy 16 year-old.

One reason besides wishing to help in the defence of the country Laceby lads of 16 or so joined the H.G. was that the publican at the Nags Head Mr. J. Everitt, was of the opinion that if the lad was old enough to wear the King's uniform he was old enough to enjoy a pint!

The LACEBY H.G. paraded at this time in Cooper Lane, with the Scouts' Hut as H.Q. This was a large wooden structure on the edge of what once was a sandpit, now filled in & an open park.

The main Officers & NCOs at the end of 1940 were Major Spilman & in charge of the 3 Platoons Lieut. Rashbrook, Lieut. Borrill & Lieut. Kennington - all I think, local farmers. Jack Stanley, the village grocer was Sgt. Major with F.Johnson, an army veteran of the 14-18 war as Sgt. & Bert Clifton, a local gardener as Quartermaster.

A part of the sandpit was used as a firing range. Giving instructions one day, a rather hesitant NCO was talking on firing a .22 small bore rifle. He had told the squad to make sure there was nothing up the spout (no bullets in the barrel) when he pointed the gun at the Scouts' Hut & pressed the trigger. The rifle went off making a neat hole in one of the windows of the hut.

The H.G. did quite a few exercises. One I remember was with the Coldstream Guards, then billeted in the village & were reforming & training after Dunkirk. The idea of the exercise was that the Coldstreams would attack the village at night & the H.G. defend it.

Before the gallant H.G. had got home from work that day there was hardly a Coldstream to be seen in the village. After calling at Cyril's shop for a packet of Woodbines the H.G. paraded & made their way to prepare for the defence of the village. They took up their positions at 8pm to do battle. 9pm came - still no sign of 'the enemy'. The gallant lads with their trigger fingers itching were still very alert but getting rather hungry. So at one of the posts, one man carefully made his way back to the village along the ditch which ran along the old Caistor Road keeping a wary eye open for the H.Q. Officer, to the fish & chip shop for supper for his mates. He did a very successful patrol & returned to his post safely with the rations.

10pm came - still no 'enemy' attack. It was getting cold & dark.

10.30pm came & went - still all quiet on the LACEBY front.

11pm nothing.

The blacked-out countryside was very black,there was no traffic & the men were tired after being at work all day.

11.1Spm - still no sign, so with 7am start of the next working day drawing nearer, the gallant lads of the IACEBY H.G. began to make their

weary way home.

12 midnight the Coldstream Guards attacked the village on all fronts!

Shortly after this exercise 2 Coldstream Guards sgts. were sent to improve the drill standards of the H.G. & gave the poor lads a hard time but I think they got some of their own back at some of those drill sessions.

Later on the H.G. were issued with more sophisticated weapons such as the 'Blackas Bombard' which looked like a drainpipe on 3 legs & fired a small mortar type shell, also a 'Prigett Morton', a similar weapon, also a sticky bomb, a phosphorous bomb which was fitted with a handle. The idea of this weapon was that a man ran up to a tank, tore off the outer casing & stuck the sticky bomb on the outside of the tank & ran like helll He only had 10 seconds to get away.

Please do not think I am holding the old H.G. up to ridicule, far from it. For if they had had to take on the German army I am certain they would have given a good account of themselves & Jerry would have known he'd been in a fight.

But back to the LACEBY Company of the 5th Lincoln Battalion of the H.G. They soldiered on til they were stood down shortly before the end of the war. They did a great job & I'm sure the Home Guarders left with a heavy heart. Men learned to get on with each other & many friendships were forged, also there was no class distinction.

It is also a pleasure to know that the C.O. of LACEBY H.G. Major H. Spilman is still with us (at the time this was written). He did a great job and always put the men first.

Fred Partner.

History Group Note: Fred was a valuable founder member of the Group and contributed vitally to the meetings.