"We want large numbers of men who are not at present engaged in military service between the ages of seventeen and sixty-five to come forward and offer their services to make assurance doubly sure........................You will not be paid but you will receive uniform and will be armed."
Anthony Eden, War Minister, 14th May 1940,
In 1940 when the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) force, later to be called the Home Guard, was formed, Reg Shuffrey of Leverstock Green Farm became Platoon Commander (Lieutenant) [CENTRE] and the farm was used as the Headquarters. (The Geese were excellent guards.) Tony Shuffrey was a Corporal and their family pet Rags, the mascot. In those days there were no uniforms but just an arm band saying LDV. Eventually rifles and uniforms were issued. The rifles were American, presumably sent under Lease Lend from America.
There used to be nightly guard duty at a pill box where today the M.10 crosses the Hemel, St Albans road (A4147),at Beech Tree.
In the early days of the LDV when people were not used to being stopped at road blocks, some drivers became very irate and agitated when they were stopped on different nights when they had a different woman passenger in the car!
During air raids on the Midlands there was evidence of 5th Column signaling to the bombers flying over. This was centre on a haystack in the area between Leverstock Green, Beech Tree and Bedmond. The Home Guard patrolled round on cycles to try to catch the person signaling to the bombers. Later the military took this over.
The Shuffrey's Herts. Battalion Cap-badges worn whilst in the Home-Guard.
The men of Leverstock Green Platoon also came from Pimlico and Bedmond as well as the village, and were delighted with their move to 22 Company. There were about 70 men in the Platoon and it was commanded by Lieut. Shuffrey of Leverstock Green Farm with 2/Lieut. Lewis as second in command. The platoon was responsible for the largest area in the company, i.e. 5,700 acres. Later 2/Lieut Lewis was transferred to B.H.Q. as Signals Officer and promoted Lieut. Staff. Sgt. Southon was then commissioned as 2/Lieut. and appointed second in command. After transfer the Platoon soon lost the services of its n.gt. (Sgt. Marhoff), who was transferred to B.H.Q. as Master Cook and promoted Staff. Sgt.
In Uniform: Corp. Arthur White; To his L: Bert Lavender, to his R: Dougie Fountain & Joe Catlin. Others unknown.
BELOW LEFT :Making a slit trench at junction of St Albans and Potterscrouch road. Later a brick pillbox was built roughly where the M10 now crosses the St Albans road. On the left is Jim Daniels and one other, on the right Tony Shuffrey.
When there was an air raid going on they rode without any lights with their rifles slung over their shoulder. On one occasion two patrols were going in opposite directions round the circuit. In the dark, under overhanging trees by Beech Tree Cottages on the St. Albans Road, the tip of the rifle of one of the patrol caught one of the opposite cyclists in the face which resulted in him being conveyed to the local doctor who stitched him up on his dining room floor.
There was a dugout in the paddock of the farm and a Nissan hut was built for storing grenades and phosphorus bombs. The hut was used after the war for storing Tony’s beekeeping equipment. (See below.)
The farm at this time still had a lot of land with it, and this was extremely useful, not just for storing munitions, but also for training.
Of course, being a mock set-up on their own land, the two Shuffrey's, father & son, were able to indulge their passion for photography.
Rags too, received some "training"!
Not contenting themselves with still photography, Tony Shuffrey borrowed a cine camera and, for fun, his father Reg made a film where Tony, dressed as a German soldier wearing a 1st World War helmet, had supposedly dropped by parachute.
The model parachute was about three inches in diameter and made of papier maché wrapped round an electric light bulb with a small figure underneath it. It was hung from a fishing rod a short distance in front of the camera and then the film was cut to Tony rolling up a dust-sheet (the so-called parachute) and hiding it in the hedge. This wasn't’ really all make-believe as a parachute was actually found under a hedge in the battalion area.
Prior to April 1942, The Leverstock Green Home Guard, was part of the 5th Herts Battalion, B Company. However, in April 1942 they were transferred to 22 Company, to become the new No. 3 Platoon.
Men of "B Company "on maneuvers".
(Or rather, taking a well earned break whilst on maneuvers.)
ABOVE; Major E H Clymo (Centre) with Lieut. Shuffrey (L) & Staff Sgt Southon (R). RIGHT:Major Clymo, commander of the 5th Herts Battalion, B Company. LEFT; Unknown lieutenant, BELOW: Major Clymo and another officer, probably from the St. Albans area.
Sgt. Carter was then appointed Platoon. Sgt. Carter ranked as one of the finest soldiers in the Co. In the early days of the L.D.V. he picked out the younger men of his section and formed them into a "Commando" squad with intensive training. Legend has it that when his section were serving with the 5th Bn. his Commandos swam the water-way in full battle order to attack the Water works at St. Albans - and won the day by sheer surprise. The Platoon was also very fortunate in having the services of Sgt. Price who distinguished himself at every course of instruction he attended. He was later commissioned as an officer. The character of the platoon was Sgt. Skeggs. No matter the weather or that browned off feeling, he always had a joke for the occasion. The area for which the platoon was responsible was the largest in the Company, stretching from Leverstock Green to Bedmond and covering 5760 acres. Lady Elizabeth Motion's (Serge Hill) Estate was used for exercises and allowed trenches to be dug on her land. She also provided a hut for the men on night duty in the area.
ABOVE: Lieut. Shuffrey (L) and Sgt. Lewis (R)
LEFT: Sgt. Marhoff of Bedmond section
RIGHT:Sgt Lewis of LG platoon. He was badly injured in first war, Lived in council house on left in Pimlico down hill from Swan PH. He was later made 2ND Lieut and later Lieut as Signals Officer
Most of the ‘lads’ in the Home Guard were probably local poachers. When there was an exercise they took great joy in arranging a scheme which crossed the area between Leverstock Green and Bedmond which was a pheasant shoot belonging to Major Motion.
The gamekeeper knew them of old and on one exercise some of them were crossing that land, crawling in the undergrowth. He shot one of them in the seat of the pants with a shotgun. Fortunately he was wearing denims over his regular trousers so suffered no ill effects. They disarmed the gamekeeper and marched him at gunpoint to the C.O. demanding that he be had up for attempted manslaughter. He told them in no uncertain terms that “The Germans will not be allowed to come through here either.” The incident was transmitted to the authorities, who, in some cases, were friends of Major Motion so the matter went no further. The ‘lads’ were so incensed that they went on strike and threatened to resign. It all came to nothing!
The platoon was eventually divided in December 1943 and a new platoon set up for Bedmond. The platoon's headquarters was at Leverstock Green farm. [S242, S249]
Sgt Collinson of LG platoon- he later joined army
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Without the considerable help of Tony Shuffrey and his wife Margaret, and the loan of the many photographs he and his father took during their time in the Leverstock Green Home Guard, this page would be virtually empty! Between them they have left a wonderful collection for future generations to enjoy. THANKYOU
Home Guard Group Photo - probably "B Company Platoon Commanders with their Commanding Officer as as Major Clymo is seated in the centre, and Lieut. Reg Shuffrey is in the back row.