One of my projects over the last year or so has been to put together some Home Guard impressions- I always enjoy setting up a new impression and pulling the kit together is hugely satisfying. Due to the mix and match nature of much of the Home Guard’s equipment I have actually managed to have three different impressions, each with differing equipment and uniform but taking advantage of many similar elements. We will be looking at each of these different impressions over the coming months, but we start off today with a Home Guardsman wearing the short lived and universally decried Home Guard cape:
Out Home Guardsman belongs to one of the four units allocated to Bradford, in this case that serving the area around Wyke and so he wears the number ‘2’ beneath the letters ‘WR’ for West Rising on his battledress blouse. He has been lucky enough to have been given a full set of battledress, although his shirt is a civilian example as the Home Guard was never entitled to an issue of army shirts. He has a set of ammunition boots, but his anklets are of leather rather than webbing. His equipment is fairly standard for a member of the Home Guard and consists of two ammunition pouches worn on a leather 1903 pattern belt. The bayonet for his P14 rifle is carried in a leather 1939 pattern bayonet frog and a webbing sleeve is fitted to the back of the belt that allows a pair of 1937 pattern braces to be used to support the whole set of equipment.
On his head he wears a standard Mk II helmet, but the most striking element of the uniform is the cape. This cape was covered in detail here, however in brief it was issued in lieu of a great coat and was neither popular or particularly practicable and so was quickly ditched in favour of a conventional great coat. Photographs of it are rare but show it could be worn either fastened to the neck as above, or open and slung back so that it sits across the back:
Wearing the cape it is readily apparent how impractical it is and when it is worn swept back especially it is very prone to catching on things and getting dragged through the mud!
- Civilian Shirt
- Battledress blouse with WR2 insignia
- Home Guard Cape
- Battledress trousers
- Home Guard equipment
- P14 rifle
- Leather anklets
- Ammunition boots
- Mk II Helmet
Agreed, anyone who thinks a cape is practical has never worn one for an extended period.
They’re even a nuisance during reenactments, no matter how heavy or lightweight they are, you always end up sitting on them or knocking something over with the ‘flowing train’.
Some people can make it work, I’m not one of them, a kilt and plaid was enough trouble, maybe if I were taller and thinner… 😉
A nice heavy woolen winter cloak is a different story altogether and I still like those, although driving in one can be a little uncomfortable if you sit on it the wrong way.
All that aside, whatever possessed someone to sign off on this idea ?
I’m wagering that someone said “we can save money by not sewing arms in” and that was all it took to convince someone who knew they’d never be wearing it.
I suppose it might be alright for sentry duty on a nippy night, it should be very warm, probably too warm under any sort of exertion with it keeping the body heat in, hence the ‘thrown back’ look similar to how we used to wear our NBC suits when not fully zipped up. I’d hate to be the one wearing it on a good crawl through the hedgerows, especially under fire or trying to stealthily slip into a position…