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MEMORY LANE: Memoirs from the Home Guard

Home Guard archive photograph - submitted by Billy Turner.
Home Guard archive photograph - submitted by Billy Turner.

As the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War passes, Diss Express reader Billy Turner shares an amusing anecdote from his father’s time in the so-called ‘Dad’s Army’ in south Norfolk during wartime.

Mr Turner recalled an instance where three German prisoners-of-war (POWs) were known to be on the loose from a PoW camp in Redgrave.

One day, Mr Turner stated, he was in his bed when he heard several members of the local Home Guard, including his father, who was a Lance Corporal, marching through the street.

“Down the road were some straw stacks with chaff sacks lying around. Dad and the rest of the Home Guard thought they would have a game, so they fixed bayonets and charged into the sacks,” he said.

“To their surprise, three men jumped out with hands held high. Dad, being Lance Corporal, and the rest of them marched the three men the three miles to Burston Police Station and handed them over to PC Tan.”

Only later that day did they discover it had been a case of mistaken identity – the three men were not the escaped German prisoners at large, but rather a trio of Irishmen who had been working to lay cement on runways.

They were supposed to have been taken to Winfarthing Lodge, but had instead resorted to sleeping anywhere they could, hence their appearance in the chaff sacks.

According to Mr Turner, his father was later told off for the mistake by the man in charge of the local Home Guard, a Mr S J Cole.

Mr Turner continued: “Dad was horseman for Mr Cole, so the next morning, he came to the farm where dad was and gave him a further ticking off.

“He told father he should have had more common sense. Father told him he couldn’t because Mr Cole had it all and besides, he had his uniform on and father didn’t.”

Mr Turner concluded his memory by saying his father “had done his bit for the war effort” through his service as part of the ‘Dad’s Army’.

The photograph shows the Home Guard, with Mr Turner’s father found in the front row, third from the far right.

Some of the men pictured have not yet been identified. Can you help us complete the line-up? Get in touch by calling 01379 658010, sending an email to editorial@dissexpress.co.uk or writing to: Diss Express, Norfolk and Suffolk House, Mere Street, Diss, IP22 4AE

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