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  #1  
Old 11-05-21, 04:53 PM
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Default The 'ME' Women's Home Guard

Photos and insignia of women Home Guard units are comparatively rare.

But one semi-famous set of publicity photos and Pathe film show a southern factory unit of women Home Guards c.1941/42 in uniform. It shows them marching and undertaking rifle drill.

They wear shoulder titles made of cut down Home Guard titles so that they read 'ME GUARD' (removing the first two letters).

Presumably, the 'ME' is the coincidental initials of the company they worked for?

If so, does anybody know which company it was or if it wasn't company initials, what the 'ME' stood for?
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  #2  
Old 11-05-21, 07:39 PM
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Don't know, but very interesting!!!

Terry
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  #3  
Old 12-05-21, 06:27 AM
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Found the Pathe film , "Arms And The Girls" , but couldn't see any clues as to where they were.

Also a post on Facebook about it :

Quote:
They design and had made their own uniform, and so not to upset the authorities they cut the HO off the Home Guard Badge, they did drill and rifle training and made a publicity film about their activities.
Not really much help but I did enjoy watching the film.

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  #4  
Old 12-05-21, 07:58 AM
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link to the film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ1NT6xp5GE
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  #5  
Old 12-05-21, 08:34 AM
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The instructor is wearing the cap badge of the East Surrey Regiment.

Last edited by Hoot; 12-05-21 at 09:04 AM.
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  #6  
Old 12-05-21, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoot View Post
The instructor is wearing the cap badge of the East Surrey Regiment.
That may tie in with an article I found:

" Women were joining Home Guard units and training with their male members, at least some of whom evidently did not subscribe to the taboo deeply embedded in the thinking of the political leaders. In the autumn of 1941 there were a number of such reports, including one about a Home Guard factory unit in Tolworth, Surrey, where ‘girls’ working at the factory had for three months been drilling, marching and learning to use rifles with the men. Horrified by such developments, the War Office issued an order published in The Times on 12 November 1941 "

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The War Office has sent an order to all Home Guard units that the training of women as unofficial Home Guard units has not been authorized. Weapons and ammunition in the charge of the Army or of Home Guard units must not be used for the instruction of women and the use of the name Home Guard is not permitted.

I wonder if , as the Women's Home Guard unit was "unofficially" recognised , they would have worn standard Home Guard titles and simply snipped off the HO to comply with the War Office order..... and to show their feelings about the Home Office !

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Old 12-05-21, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_vee View Post
That may tie in with an article I found:

" Women were joining Home Guard units and training with their male members, at least some of whom evidently did not subscribe to the taboo deeply embedded in the thinking of the political leaders. In the autumn of 1941 there were a number of such reports, including one about a Home Guard factory unit in Tolworth, Surrey, where ‘girls’ working at the factory had for three months been drilling, marching and learning to use rifles with the men. Horrified by such developments, the War Office issued an order published in The Times on 12 November 1941 "




I wonder if , as the Women's Home Guard unit was "unofficially" recognised , they would have worn standard Home Guard titles and simply snipped off the HO to comply with the War Office order..... and to show their feelings about the Home Office !

.
Great stuff. The only thing that bothers me is that 'ME GUARD' doesn't mean anything and just sounds a bit odd.

I suspect that it was the coincidental initials of the factory business. The crane in the background suggests it may have been an engineering works, so it could be M???? Engineering of Tolworth etc.
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Old 12-05-21, 12:00 PM
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There was a lot of opposition to females being in the Home Guard and the War Office made concerted efforts to discourage/downplay their activities (as can be seen in attached pic).

Gender Politics !

While equality was probably the main reason the supporters of females having 'equal roles , responsibilities and training' in the Home Guard , one of the areas they pushed was that females should have the knowledge and skills to be able to 'defend themselves' in case of a German attack/invasion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ARPCDHG View Post
The only thing that bothers me is that 'ME GUARD' doesn't mean anything and just sounds a bit odd.
While it may sound odd today could it be their way of saying that they wanted to "guard"(protect) themselves ? (Fast forward to 2017 and the 'Me Too' movement).

Just a 'theory' but as they were already wearing 'Home Guard' titles and wouldn't want to completely remove the 'Home' part then indicating that it was about themselves could make sense .

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Last edited by mike_vee; 12-05-21 at 12:23 PM.
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  #9  
Old 12-05-21, 02:01 PM
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The invaluable Graces Guide throws up one possibility; Mollart Engineering of Kingston By Pass, Surbiton the borough in which Tolworth was situated. That would also tie in with the officer's East Surrey cap badge

The Guide lists them as manufacturers of Ball Joints and suppliers to the Aircraft Industry.

Jon
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Old 12-05-21, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Postwarden View Post
The invaluable Graces Guide throws up one possibility; Mollart Engineering of Kingston By Pass, Surbiton the borough in which Tolworth was situated. That would also tie in with the officer's East Surrey cap badge

The Guide lists them as manufacturers of Ball Joints and suppliers to the Aircraft Industry.

Jon
Think you've nailed it Jon and explains the 'ME GUARD' shoulder title. Nice one.
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Old 12-05-21, 02:49 PM
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Their entry in Grace's Guide

https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Mollart_Engineering_Co

The Company still exists and is still based in the same part of the world.

https://www.mta.org.uk/members/membe...ngineering-ltd

Jon
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  #12  
Old 12-05-21, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Postwarden View Post
The invaluable Graces Guide throws up one possibility; Mollart Engineering of Kingston By Pass, Surbiton the borough in which Tolworth was situated. That would also tie in with the officer's East Surrey cap badge

The Guide lists them as manufacturers of Ball Joints and suppliers to the Aircraft Industry.

Jon
Well done Jon , you've nailed it !

The photo I attached in post #8 states :

Quote:
In reponse to urgent War Office inquiries , the works manager and the London District Home Guard CO qualified the picture:
In "Contesting home defence - Men, women and the Home Guard in the Second World War" by Penny Summerfield and Corinna Peniston-Bird , the references list has :

Quote:
82 NA, WO, 32/9423, Letters from Works Director, Mollart Engineering Co. Ltd, 6 November 1941, and London District Commander Home Guard, 11 November 1941.
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  #13  
Old 13-05-21, 08:01 AM
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Just for information , the document referenced above is :

WO 32/9423 :WOMENS SERVICES: General (Code 68(A)): Use of women as Auxiliaries in the Home Guard.

It is held by The National Archives Kew.

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  #14  
Old 13-05-21, 10:03 AM
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Mike,

Brilliant digging. Another longstanding mystery solved with some irrefutable evidence.

Jon
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  #15  
Old 20-05-21, 01:24 PM
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Good show Jon. I would have snapped up that press photo of them on ebay of them marching, but couldn't see any insignia on the shoulders, so gave it a pass.
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