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Homeguard?


Guest ogriman
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Question from a WW1 ignoramous. Was there an equivelent to the Homeguard of WW2 in WW1? Also, if a man had previously served in the Army, but was found "unfit" in 1915 is there any military duties in the UK he could have been posted to?

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Yes, there was an exact equivalent to the Home Guard, the Volunteer Force, formerly the Volunteer Training Corps. It was originally formed by a group of enthusiasts in 1914 to provide military training for those too old or not yet able to volunteer for the Army. From 1916 its role began to change to Home Defence and by the end of the war it was playing a major role in this.

As for your man declared unfit for the Army in 1915, there were no military possibilities for him in 1915. However, he may well have been subjected to further medical examination after conscription was introduced in early 1916. If his medical category had improved from being totally unfit, he might well have been enlisted for garrison service at home.

Charles

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Maybe a possibility, - there seems to be a lot of contradictory information about the formation of the Royal Defence Corps (which was effectively the Home Guard) and it's relationship with the National Volunteer Force. Several sources say that the RDC was formed Aug 1917 from the home service Garrison Battalions of eighteen different regiments (the implication being "exclusively formed from"), but other sources imply a much earlier formation and at least partial absorbtion of NVF personel.

SDITGW shows deaths as early as 1915 for men serving with the RDC, with previous Army service in some other unit, and there are loads of RDC deaths during 1916 including at least five who do not show any previous service with any Army unit (ex NVF men ?). I've also seen quite a lot of Silver War Badge index cards for RDF men who have no other military attachments shown.

If your man was downgraded to home service during 1915, having already done service which was medal qualifying, and did get assigned to the RDF, then the RDF service will be shown on his service medal index card - regardless of the fact that home service with the RDF was not "medal qualifying" in it's own right. Regards - Tom

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Probably not connected with the original posting but can anyone add to the following taken from a local newspaper of 4 December 1914. The author may well have written to many other newspapers.

An Over 45 Battalion

Sir, As one of the men over 45 who are not likely to be called upon to serve except in the last extremity, I would like to bring to your notice the movement which is on foot to induce Lord Kitchener to accept a battalion or more of picked men over that age. Men who want to join should send to Mr E S Day, Rowlands Castle, Hants, a postcard bearing nothing but their name and address and the words "Over 45" and he will then send them a form to fill up. Yours etc Charles Hambleton.

Stuart

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Tom

I would beg to differ with your assertion that the Royal Defence Corps was the WW1 equivalent of the Home Guard. The RDC was made up of fulltime soldiers, while the Volunteer Force were part-timers, just as the Home Guard was.

As for the origins of the RDC, these lie in the formation in 1914 of companies of Class II National Reservists for the guarding of railways, munitions factories and other vulnerable points. These Protection Companies, as they were called, were retitled Supernumerary Companies TF in March 1915 and were affiliated to existing TF battalions. The formation of the RDC took place in spring 1916, as a result of a review of home defence by Sir John French. He considered the Supernumerary Company organisation to be untidy and decided that they should be removed from the Territorial Force and formed into a separate body. The RDC initially consisted of Protection and Observation Companies.

The transfer of the eighteen Home Service Garrison Bns to the RDC took place in August 1917. However, these battalions were largely formed from existing Protection Companies, with their existing manpower being largely transferred to other units (the Labour Corps took all C3 men). The RDC now consisted of B2 and C2 men aged over 41 and also still had, besides the battalions, 68 Protection and 10 Reserve Companies. Apart from guarding VPs, the RDC also provided guards for POW camps. These were often very scattered and it became difficult for Bn HQs to administer their often widely dispersed companies. Consequently, by April 1918 the RDC battalions were broken up and the Corps reverted to a company organisation.

I have, as yet, found no evidence of any official policy to transfer Volunteer Force men to the RDC. I would imagine that some VF members individually made themselves available for fulltime military service, but being over-age were placed in the RDC.

Charles

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the volunteer force was indeed a going concern.

they were nicknamed the 'gorgeous wrecks' from 'georgeus rex' on their badges. regards

david.

if you want any more onfo, e-mail me and i'll look some notes out on them. :rolleyes:

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