A benefit of the substantial recruitment into the Home Guard was the release of the army to perform its regular duty. Local men living in North Wales who for various reasons were unable to enlist in the services contributed by enrolling in the Home Guard.
There would be branches in every district, comprised of men perhaps too old for conscription. Originally named the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), they were sometimes called ‘Look, Duck and Vanish’. Denbighshire was fortunate in having experienced men who had served in the First World War.
Lieutenant-Colonel John R.Williams was an example, and one of the first to join. He had joined the 4th Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers when the First World War broke out. Commissioned as a second lieutenant, he had served in Rouen, Messines, Passchendaele and Ypres. Others had fought in Flanders and in the Boer War. Williams transferred to the RAF in 1918 and became education officer of the squadron. After the war, he qualified as a solicitor.
Other local solicitors also joined the LDV on the outbreak of the Second World War. Major A. I. Edwards-Evans was organiser at Colwyn Bay, Captain Arthur Hughes was responsible for the enrolment in Colwyn Bay, J. D. H. Osborn was in charge at Betws-yn-Rhos and John Williams was lieutenant-colonel in charge of Abergele. His Home Guard regiment’s motto was Wastad yn Barod (Always Ready) and they tried to live up to it.
The Ministry of Food had its own Home Guard company, which became affectionately known as ‘Bureaucrats in Battledress’. There were strategically important defence positions – at the headland and the main line railway between Holyhead and Euston. Companies A, B, C, D and E, were set up to cover local geographic areas and when the Ministry of Food came, F company was formed under the command of Major Lawrence, until Lachlan MacLean, OBE, a principal assistant secretary arrived from
London in September. Many who arrived in July 1940 had been enrolled in the London guard in preceding months.
They were responsible for guarding a section of coastal defences A medical organisation within the Home Guard was authorised in April 1941, and a medical officer was appointed to each battalion with the rank of major. Dr Geoffrey Jones was with B Company and carried out the training.
A special feature of the procession to celebrate the third anniversary of the Ministry unit was a company of Women Home Guards from the Ministry of Food. They received a special ovation from the Colwyn Bay crowd. Miss A. E. French headed the company. It was highly unusual for women to be members of the Home Guard, as researched by Penny Summerville in her book Contesting Home Defence. But, there were career women in the workforce of the Ministry, who were also members of the Women’s Home Guard. They were not only employees but also the wives of the executive civil servants who had been evacuated to the town, and some local women had also volunteered. It is evident that Colwyn Bay was a progressive area in this field, clearly due to the influence of those evacuated civil servants.