Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Extracts from ‘Northamptonshire Home Guard 1940-1945’, A History by B.G. Holloway. Additional information from Jon-Paul Carr.
Home Guard

1. There where 15 Home Guard Battalions in Northamptonshire. These provided a normal guarding duty. However none of these really came into existence after re-organisations which occurred on 1st February 1941. Previously when Anthony Eden called for a L.D.V. on the wireless  it was known as Wellingborough District LDV (see point 8) or Wellingborough Division, Division South – Group 9-14 and 21-23. Rushden being Group 21.

2. The Battalions

a) 7th Battalion (Wellingborough Town) The Northamptonshire Regiment Home Guard - 'this obviously just served Wellingborough Town' after Feb 1941

b) 8th Battalion (Wellingborough District) The Northamptonshire Home Guard. This battalion served the Rushden area with its Headquarters at Rushden. It was formed 1st February 1941. It was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent H. Sykes. I think he was a solicitor with a practice in Thrapston. If this is the case his daughter-in-law is still alive and living at Aldwinckle or Titchmarsh.

c) Each of the Battalions fitted into 4 Sectors within Northamptonshire Sub-District e.g. Northamptonshire 3 Sector consisted of the 7th and 8th Battalion

d) The Sub Districts fitted into a East Central District which covered Beds, Hunts, Bucks, Herts and Northants.

3. Other Battalions and Companies where set up to serve other purposes such as a Battalion of Anti-Aircraft (at Stewart and Lloyds at Corby) and Motor Transport Companies. This includes the Motor Transport Company, the background of which is that on May 29th 1941 the formation of Home Guard motor-coach and transport companies was authorized and in September 1942 such units were expanded and their names standardized as Home Guard (Motor Transport or M.T.) Companies. They were trained to operate and maintain civilian transport, mostly lorries, which would be requisitioned in emergencies. On January 11th 1944 the companies were grouped into M.T. Columns in readiness for their possible use as a back-up to R.A.S.C. units in the build-up to the invasion of Europe.

4. The Motor Transport Company in Northamptonshire was officially formed on the 1st November 1942 as 2001 Northamptonshire Regiment Home Guard Motor Company. It probably consisted of four companies of which B Company was one of them. The Company Headquarters was located at the United Counties Omnibus Company at the Depot on the Bedford Road in Northampton. It was commanded by Major J.H. Mills.

8th Battalion
When the 8th (Wellingborough District) Battalion was re-formed Lt. Col. Sotheby retired from the command in favour of Lt. Col. V. H. Sykes. As Captain Sykes he had previously been in command of A Company, and was succeeded by Capt. Freer but, when he died suddenly, the post was then filled by Major W. M. Horrell.

Lt. Col. Sykes had enlisted as a private on the formation in 1908 of the Territorial Army. Following the outbreak of War in 1914, he went  to France and Belgium in September 1914, and was commissioned in the Sherwood Foresters and was badly wounded at Ypres. In 1918 he served in the Machine Gun Corps and retired in 1919 as Captain.

He had helped to recruit the 4th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment before this war started in 1939. Lt. Col. Sykes served as Chief A.R.P. Warden of Raunds and District, before recruiting for and transferring, on its foundation, to the Home Guard.

Major R. K. Green was Second-in-Command, Captains Attley, J. H. Banks, Whyte and Davis in turn served as Battalion Adjutants and Capt. A. J. Pond was Quartermaster.

The 8th Battalion company commanders were:-

Major Headquarters
W M Horrell Raunds
A D Denton Lovell’s Factory, Rushden
J C Richardson Fox & Hounds, Earls Barton
A C Pyrah Botterill & Sons, London Road, Bozeat
A Allebone Swindalls, Station Road, Rushden
P W Bletsoe Town Hall, Higham Ferrers
S T Reynolds Baptist School Room, Wollaston

Specialist Officers


Medical Officer

Major R W Davis Rushden

Chief Guide

Capt. S R Fox Rushden (he received a direct commission into the Regular Army in June 1943)

Ammunition Officer

Lt. J R Biddle Irchester

Transport Officer

Capt. F E Brown Rushden

Intelligence Officer

Lt. W J Wells Higham Ferrers

Signals Officer

Lt. H E Allen Rushden

Gas Officer

2nd Lt. F G Beasley Wollaston

Weapon Training Officer

Lt. A G Rogers Wollaston

P.A.D. Officer

Lt. A F Weale Rushden

Assistant Adjutant & Quartermaster

Lt. P J Whitney Raunds

P.D.O. Officer

Lt. A Warren -

Camouflage Officer

2nd Lt. J A Stokes -

The Battalion area was 62 square miles from Ringstead (north) to Grendon & Bozeat (south) and included 18 parishes, and the Headquarters were based on Rushden.

The 8th Battalion had all the usual duties of the Home Guard with an additional charge for special defence of Chelveston Aerodrome.

In 1942 the 8th Battalion became responsible for Ditchford bridgehead and the viaduct across the Nene at Chester House, as part of the defence of river crossings.

Rush of Recruits in Wellingborough District.
The men of Wellingborough Town’s brother battalion (later 8th) provided another memorable demonstration of readiness for service in 1940.
Within a matter of minutes of the end of Mr. Eden’s broadcast men of Rushden and Higham Ferrers and surrounding villages were offering themselves for enrolment in hundreds, and a distinguished soldier in Lt. Col. H. G. Sotheby. M.V.O., D.S.O., of Ecton [Hall], readily accepted an invitation to become the group’s first commander.

Meanwhile, operatives, bakers, shop assistants, and so on, some veterans of the last war, and others, with youths in their ‘teens, walked, drove or cycled to join up. This went on for days, and then on Sunday, 26th May, they were called to a conference at Rushden British Legion Hall, and nearly nine hundred responded.
Mr. Bob Denton, Chairman of the local British Legion, and Capt C. Clark (Chief  A.R.P. Warden of Rushden) gave out the latest news of organization of the L.D.V.

The enthusiasm was enormous, but, alas, once again the supply of equipment was woefully small! A public appeal was immediately launched for such items as binoculars as part of patrolling and observation equipment.

First arrangements provided for Mr. R. Chammberlain (Higham Ferrers) to command all L.D.V’s (popularly known as “parashooters”) in Rushden, Higham Ferrers, and Irchester, with Mr. R. Tarry as second-in-command, and Mr. A. F. Weale as adjutant. Mr. Chamberlain joined the Royal Navy shortly afterwards, however, and Mr. A. D. Denton took his place.

Rushden platoons were formed under Messrs. A. J. Sturgess, V.H. Partridge, C. King Woods and J. S. Parker, and at Higham Ferrers the leader was Mr. Leo Claridge.

On 3 June sections were formed and more specific duties allocated, though some patrol work had already been carried out. Then, armed with borrowed sporting-guns and plenty of optimism, Wellingborough District L.D.V. proceeded on their guard duties over bridges, stations, and factories, or patrolled all high ground scanning the skies for invading aircrafts. None appeared, but there is a local story about a black bullock with a white face which tested the nerves of some of the watchers, and another story concerning the precarious position of two leaders who found themselves one night at the wrong end of a gun!

The local unit began to take shape and became No.12 Company of the Wellingborough and District Home Guard Battalion. It was a clumsy arrangement  as platoons were almost at company strength, but it had to suffice for the time being.
At that time Rushden had four platoons, and Higham Ferrers, Newton Bromswold and Irchester one each.

In conclusion the Home Guard was partially stood down on September 6th 1944 and the stand down was made complete eight weeks later on November 1st with final parades all over the country on Sunday December 3rd. Requisitioned property was handed back to its former owners and uniforms and equipment handed in. The Home Guard was finally disbanded a year later on December 31st 1945.

If you can help by naming any of these men please contact us.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the War index
Click here to e-mail us