The Home Guard

Air raid wardens patrolled the village to make sure that no buildings were showing any lights. Anyone found carrying a camera was arrested and so it is perhaps not surprising that this chapter has so few local photographs. Between 1940 and 1944 those too young or too old to join up, or in the reserved occupations, formed the Home Guard.

They included men who had fought in the First World War. They paraded at Hulverstone School, trained together on Sunday mornings, did guard duty one night in six on Brighstone Down and took part in exercises with troops guarding the coast.

Robert (Bob) Cassell who worked at Hulverstone Farm, recalled one particular night when: Another bloke and I had to go and man a machine gun post... It was right on the edge of the cliff and to get to it we had to go through a mine field. A regular soldier took us there and showed us the path to take. it was a bit scary, like. We stopped there until gone daylight. Such duties were on top of a day’s work: After our nights on duty I had to be back at work at the farm at five o’clock in the morning.

In case of an invasion, there was also a ‘secret army’ of local men who were selected and trained in resistance tactics. Known as the Auxiliary Units, their aim was to wreak havoc behind enemy lines as the German invasion progressed. Russian commandos were brought to the Island to train these specially recruited men. Veterans of the First World War were preferred as were men who knew every inch of the countryside. They would hide in special underground chambers and the plan was that they would emerge at night and sabotage enemy supply lines and equipment.  

Myrtle remembers that there were a fair number of false alarms as people adapted to the need to be on alert: Mr Jasper Morris and my father were air raid wardens. On one of the Engine House posts (attached to the walled garden of Brooke House), there was a square piece of tin painted – I think yellow – and it was to be changed to another colour if there were any gases about. Mr Morris would come out and shout to Dad ‘Yeller, Alf, yeller!’ so Dad had to hurry to Dunsbury to warn them. When he returned he frequently met Jasper hurrying out with ‘Air raid warning Red’. Only to run out again and meet Jasper coming back with ‘Air raid warning Green’ (all clear). They soon got fed up with that…

Similarly Babs Barton (Jackman) remembers her father was made head warden for the Mottistone area and had a whistle on which he needed to blow a specific number of blasts to let people know whether it was a high, medium or low level of risk. She remembers that after many false alarms, however, she was the one who was sent to go around the villages and blow the whistle.