The following article is taken, with permission of the Author from:
“This was Rustington - No.3 In Times of War” written by Mrs Mary Taylor ©1989
Printed by Littlehampton Printers 37 Beach Road
Published December 1981 Reprinted August 1990
Rustington Home Guard - From WI Scrapbook
Readers will recall the speech and appeal of Mr. Anthony Eden on the evening of 15th May 1940 calling for all the able bodied men especially those with experience and service in World War 1 to enroll in the newly formed Force to be known as the Local Defence Volunteers.
Throughout the whole country, from every Town, Village and Hamlet came immediate response and, within a few days, one hundred had enrolled in Rustington. It was not however, until the 5th June that the necessary orders and details of duties were received from higher command, when leaders of the various units were appointed and arrangements were made for fixed headquarters at the Rustington Village Hall. For a few weeks, the Rustington L.D.V. who as with other units, had but an armlet as the only outward emblem of authority commenced their operational duties of manning posts at the Windmill Bridge and the telephone exchange, whilst other members were detailed to patrol the roads. These duties came around every fourth night for each volunteer, either from 8.55pm to 1.00am or from 12.55pm to 5am.
Within a week or so the 2nd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards were quartered in the village upon their return from Dunkirk, and then it was the duty of the Rustington Volunteers to man a post each night on the beach until midnight, when the guards would take over this particular duty, and the Rustington men were justly proud of this association.
Towards the end of June, uniforms in the shape of denim overalls were issued, and in the following months rifles provided in sufficient numbers to equip every man. At this period of the war the village had been subject to frequent and in some cases severe raids by enemy aircraft. Many readers will recall the incident over and around the aerodrome at Ford, on the 3rd Sunday in August when one German bomber a J.U. 87 was damaged and landed on the Ham Manor Golf Links. The two airmen were severely wounded, but the bomber was in almost perfect condition. Two members of the LDV were quickly on the spot and so contacted the enemy, and soon after a guard was mounted over the fallen machine.
In August 1940 there was a change of name and then LDV assumed a new title and became known naturally as the Home Guard. New battledress and equipment was issued, and the local unit became part of the formation known officially as the 6th Sussex (Arundel) Battalion Home Guard.
Rustington now had one platoon with four sections, each of thirty men, together with Home Guard personnel whose particular job it was to issue uniforms, arms, ammunition and equipment, as well as keeping the records and making the numerous returns - in duplicate and triplicate - to higher authority.
Two officers had been appointed and granted regular commissions, and the local strength was up to about 130 volunteers. Training had become a serious matter and the program as originally laid down had to be greatly exceeded. Volunteers were instructed in the use of many different weapons, not only a rifle, but also light and heavy machine guns, grenades and mortars etc. Instruction was given in both defence and attack methods, bayonet fighting, battle craft, house clearing, wood clearing, signalling, and many other items to numerous to mention.
To assist the training, the platoon was visited from time to time by permanent staff instructors from battalion headquarters. Each man had to become efficient, and appearing before a visiting examiner had to past a test in various subjects, including map reading. In the spring of 1942 the Home Guard unit was detailed for instruction by the regular army battalion quartered at the time in the same area. Up to date instructions of the Rustington platoon was undertaken by the 22nd Royal Regiment of Canada, and a fortnight of intensive training was received.
Live ammunition and Bren Gun carriers were used over our men in slit trenches, who learned also how to pass barbed wire obstacles, even in complete darkness. Attendance at all parades was good, bearing in mind, that many men were engaged in civilian occupation covering twelve hours or more a day.
From time to time officers and NCOs were detailed to attend special courses at training centres and constant reminders were received from higher authority to train hard.
June 1942 brought conscription to the Home Guard and the strength in Rustington rose to 170 men. In addition to the accommodation at the village hall, new head quarters were taken over now at the old vicarage, the number of commissioned officers was increased to four, and the whole force was divided into two platoons, each consisting of two battle platoons, The increase in strength meant hours of instruction, and officers and NCOs were fortunate if they had one free evening a week. Apart from parade attendances and training in general, guard duties now fell due to each man every twelfth night.
Towards the end of the war, the Rustington platoon, maintained a post on the beach at the end of Sea Avenue and a house near at hand known as “Gayfair” was used as a guardroom. The guard was mounted and inspected nightly, orders were read over and each sentry completed two hours and forty minutes continuous duty on the beach during the eight hour guard.
In all weathers, whether fair or foul, the sentries were at the posts and the smart military appearance was maintained at all times.
In August 1944 when the Rustington Home Guard was under the immediate control of the regular Army, more orders of both operational duty and training led to the expectation of increased military duties at home, but within a week or so all orders were cancelled by the war office, and on Sunday 11th September 1944 the last guard was mounted. Then as with other units throughout the country, the last parade was held on Sunday 3rd December 1944.
Many of those taking part in this final parade of the Home Guard had served throughout, in all about 500 men had joined the local unit during the time it had been in being, many of whom had passed on of course into the regular services. Men from every quarter had joined in a common cause, with a determination, to render whatever service they could. They came together, trained together, turned out together in all weathers and lasting friendships were made. From time to time the Rustington platoon received high praise from Commanders of the Regular Regiment, regarding their high standard of efficiency in training and their appearance on parade. Morale was of high standing, and a comradeship which will be remembered by all, grew up and became a particular feature of our local unit. It was indeed this spirit of comradeship coupled as it was with both loyalty and efficiency, which contributed so much to the success of the Rustington Home Guard as a whole.
Although the last official parade had been held, the Home Guard carried on actively with exercises and manoeuvres against regular troops, one such exercise taking place around the Poling Radar Station; and regular rifle practice was continued on the Arundel range until the Home Guard as a whole was finally disbanded in 1956.
In 1949 the members of the local Home Guard presented the village with a drinking fountain, set up near the old H.Q. in the Recreation Ground but this, alas, subsequently fell at the hands of vandals.