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Memories of Mr Dalby’s time in the Home Guard


Oct 3, 2022

Paul Dalby has fond memories of the role his father Clive played in the Home Guard during the Second World War.

In particular, he remembers a proud day when he watched him and his colleagues celebrating victory over the Germans with a march over Magdalen Bridge in Oxford.

He was prompted to write in after seeing our latest pictures featuring local members of the Home Guard (Memory Lane, February 7 and 14).

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He recalls: “My father helped man the anti-aircraft guns on the Cowley Marshes.

“I also remember him going to Wales for training and also an incident when a plane was identified as an enemy aircraft. The Home Guard opened fire but, luckily, they all missed as later they found out that it was a British aircraft.

“I also remember being taken by my mother to watch him marching over Magdalen Bridge after the war when the Home Guard joined the regular army, with some American soldiers, in a parade.

“After all these years, I can still remember the tune they marched to – the marine hymn from the film, ‘Halls of Montezuma’ released in 1951.”

Mr Dalby senior was born in Uppingham in Rutland and started work with a tailor when he left school. He later followed his father into the building trade.

He moved to Oxford where one of his sisters lived and joined Symm and Co, the well-known city building firm which did much work on the Oxford colleges.

Photo: Oxford Mail

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His son writes: “At first, the family lived in a house in Iffley Road, but in 1963, they moved to Morrell Avenue.

“He didn’t have a car, but had a moped to travel to work.

“Much of the work he did was in maintaining the Oxford colleges.

“Later in life, he worked as a technician for the Post Office in Oxford.

“In his spare time, he loved gardening, growing tomatoes in his greenhouse and chrysanthemums and dahlias with huge flowers.”

Our earlier pictures showed members of two units – Oxford 2144MT ((Motor or Mechanised Transport) and Oxford 2147MC (possibly Motorcycle), which were part of the South Midland Home Guard Transport Column.

They had assembled in uniform for a panoramic photograph, which we split into two.

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This was sent in after we revealed the important part women played in the Home Guard during the war (Memory Lane, November 22).

Peter Salcombe, secretary of the Oxfordshire Home Guard and Home Front Living History Group, wrote: “Ladies were unofficially part of the Home Guard from the beginning, helping with office work, as transport drivers, as first aiders and occasionally as dispatch riders.

“Some who were members of gun clubs helped to instruct rifle shooting, which was completely against the rules.

“The Government and the Army tried to ban them, but the Home Guard were a law unto themselves and ignored the instructions.

“At the end of 1943, they gave up and agreed that women would become official members and they were issued with an armband, badge and an Army side cap.”

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF