Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

The Home Guards Stand Down Parade 1944

Discussion in 'The Home Front' started by Jim, Dec 30, 2010.

Tags:
  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,324
    Likes Received:
    12
    via War44
    In London On Sunday December 3, 1944, over 7,000 Home Guards, drawn from all over Britain, marched past H.M the King, who took the farewell salute, the Queen and the Princesses, at Stanhope Gate, Hyde Park. Three men from each unit in the Kingdom attended, together with some 3,500 from the London district, most of who had enrolled when the Home Guard was formed, as the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers), in May 1940.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,324
    Likes Received:
    12
    via War44
    We Cheered the Home Guards Last Parade

    Great crowds lined London’s bomb-scarred streets on the grey Sunday afternoon of December 3, 1944 to honour the farewell parade of Britain’s Home Guard who for over four years had held themselves ready to repel any invader. Grace Herbert of the Daily Express here gives her impression of marchers and spectators on this moving occasion.

    They marched through Hyde Park, sere and leafless in the typical December weather, saluted the King, their Colonel-in-Chief, went off down Piccadilly to the Circus, up Regent Street, turned left along Oxford Street to Marble Arch, and went by Tyburn Gate, then down through the Park again to the Ring Road to disperse, officially for ever, unless called on for some fateful emergency.

    A spectator can stand only at one place along a route; see one aspect of a marching mans face, one set of expressions. I felt a strange, unusual wish, to cry. Why? These were ordinary men, our grocers, bank managers, husbands, and sons. Men we see every day. But for this day they were uplifted into something different. They wore great coats and tin hats, some carried new rifles, and others had last-war rifles. Some wore new boots which were hurting them, some were young, very young, some were old, though not too old. Men of 70 walked beside boys of 17. And they were comrades. It was the comradeship, not the militancy, of this cession which made me want to cry.

    I stood near the podium, where, the King, the Queen and the two Princesses were to take the salute. The Royal Standard curled in a soft breeze. People crowded the roof tops of the Dorchester Hotel and the houses of Stanhope Gate just behind. Park Lane was still. In the middle distance we heard a low cheering. Five grey horses of the Metropolitan Police came into view. Behind them bobbed the khaki tin, hats of our voluntary army. Several of us stood on park seats so that we could see both them and the King and Queen, and the Princesses, The King wore Field-Marshal's uniform; the Queen, a black fur coat, a black hat, and fox fur.

    Home Guards swinging down Piccadilly on December 3, 1944, had taken part in the special stand-down parade in London.H.M. the King broadcast an appreciation of their services, in which he described them as “mighty in courage and determination.”

    [​IMG]

    With them on the saluting platform were Sir James Grigg, War Secretary, in a plain black coat, and General Sir Harold Franklyn, Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces. The Irish Guards band, stationed opposite the platform, played "Colonel Bogey." Princess Margaret whispered to Elizabeth. They strained forward past their mother and father to see the men advancing. The King raised his hand to the salute as men of the London district marched past. Then came the anti-aircraft gunners; then the Eastern Command contingent. For 45 minutes they marched by, 29 contingents, 11 Home Guard bands. The crowd cheered and clapped. Nearly every person in that crowd was looking out for somebody they knew in the parade.

    It was an amazingly large, good natured crowd. But it did not cheer loud and long. One woman said: “We are still at war” Which seemed to sum up the general feeling. There were many Home Guards in the crowd, both in and out of uniform, And they made remarks like these:
    "Well, it shows the war's nearing its end," "One job's done." "We won't forget the friends we've made in a hurry." "Fancy everyone of those 7,000 men wearing his Own socks." "Now I remember when we only had sticks." "Now mum'll have me back on her hands." "Old Home Guards never die .... " The last line passed. The police closed in. It was over.
     

Share This Page