On May 14 1940 Secretary of State for War, Anthony Eden, made an appeal on the wireless to the nation.
“Since the war began the Government has received countless inquiries from all over the kingdom from men of all ages who are for one reason or another not at present engaged in military service, and who wish to do something for the defence of their country. Well, now is your opportunity. We want large numbers of such men in Great Britain, who are British subjects, between the ages of 17 and 65, to come forward now and offer their services.
The name of the new Force which is now to be raised will be "The Local Defence Volunteers". This name describes its duties in three words. This is a part-time job, so that there will be no need for any volunteer to abandon his present occupation. When on duty you will form part of the armed forces. You will not be paid, but you will receive a uniform and will be armed.”
In a broadcast of 14 July 1940, Churchill first referred to the new citizen army as the 'Home Guard', and the name stuck. Qualifications required were minimal: There was no medical examination - recruits were required only to be 'capable of free movement'.
Many of the early recruits were veterans of the First World War.
At first it was impossible to arm the the volunteers with anything like effective weapons, for what remained in the nation's armoury was needed by the regular troops, so the enthusiastic recruits were armed with hastily improvised hand weapons, usually pickaxe handles, Knives, pitchforks and broomsticks. At first the only item of uniform was an armband marked ’Home Guard'. Later a large consignment of 1917 pattern American "Springfield" rifles arrived but these were never really popular and their .300 calibre made them incompatible with the much-admired British service rifle, the .303 Lee Enfield Mk 4. Only a lucky few, however, were issued with Mk 3 Short Lee Enfield rifles, which had been standard equipment in the First World War.
Bridgend had two Battalion's, GLN 03 Was responsible for the town of Bridgend and district. GLN 23 was responsible for The Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF), which was on the outskirts of the town, it was one of the biggest munitions factories in the UK. 23nd Battalion was responsible for guarding the perimeter of the works. This was a big undertaking as the area of the ROF was massive.
Machine gun Pillboxes were built on the hillside along the site, these were manned by the Home Guard. Some of the smaller entrances were also controlled jointly by the Home Guard and the ROFs own Security team. The biggest fear was not enemy bombing, but that Saboteurs would infiltrate the site and plant explosives, or set off explosives already in the plant, which would have been catastrophic, both in terms of damage and loss of life, but also as a set back to the war effort.
There were 10 pillboxes in total, each manned by either 2, or 4 home Guards depending on the size and design of the pillbox. Each box had either a Corporal, or a Sergeant in charge. It was common for a Sergeant to take responsibility for overseeing 3 boxes and a Corporal 2 boxes. Whilst they commanded the surrounding area and perimeter, the Home Guard never manned the gates, or stepped inside the factory ground. The ROF had it's own security force of 60 people, but as yet we can find out little of what they were like.
We know that the Post Office in Bridgend had it's own Home Guard Platoon and we suspect so did the railway.
We will update this page as more information is discovered. [Last Update 2/10/012]