Categories 1941

British Home Defences under inspection

Alan Brooke, centre, en route to yet another exercise in Britain. Senior officers still wore cavalry uniform.

In September 1941 General Alan Brooke was Chief in Command Home Defence, a post he had held for just over a year. In his first year he estimated he had travelled 14,000 miles by air and 70,000 miles by car travelling around Britain inspecting troops and preparing for the expected invasion. The previous week he had been inspecting ‘stay behind units’ that were intended to conduct guerrilla war behind enemy lines in the event of invasion.

When Russia was invaded he believed that they would not last more than ‘three or four months’, in line with German expectations. He saw this as a breathing space for the preparation of Home forces and was as energetic as ever in this pursuit:

3 September

Left Hendon 8.45 am, flew to Duxford where I inspected 70 Welsh Young Soldiers’ Battalion. Dirty but not a bad lot of boys. Then flew on to Debden to see A Coy of 70th KRRC [King’s Royal Rifle Corps], quite good and should make a good battalion. By car to Castle Camp aerodrome to see B Coy 70th KRRC.

Back to Debden aerodrome where I lunched with Churchill, the aerodrome commander. Left at 2.15 for Martlesham, to see A and B Coys of 70th Suffolks – a good battalion.

On again by car to Southend, where I saw A and B Coys of 70th Essex, disappointing! and half trained. Finally flew back to Hendon where I landed at 6 pm, Just as Gort was taking off to fly back to Gibraltar. Remained in office till 8 pm and have now got heavy evening in front of me to prepare tomorrow’s conference.

See Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke

2 thoughts on “British Home Defences under inspection”

  1. With respect to Gen. Alan Brooke’s “cavalry” uniform (see picture caption), I suspect it was more the tradition of an officer wearing the appropriate gear for riding at the head of his troops as infantry and artillery officers had done for years. He was commissioned as an artillery officer and served with the artillery in WW I. The horses were gone, but not the tradition.

    Please don’t let this very minor niggle discourage you, The series is wonderful and I look forward eagerly to my daily dose.

  2. I enlisted in the KRRC on 7th August, 1941 at Winchester(Bushfield Camp)..Later joined the 70th Bn at Bury St.Edmonds, Suffolk,,,Later to Debden airdrome for guard duties….Sadly our Batallion was disbanded in 1942..Why, I wonder….After various tests we all split up and went to different regiments…

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