Dad's Revolutionaries; Members of Home Guard Were Ready to Attack No 10, Says BBC Documentary

Daily Mail (London), September 6, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Dad's Revolutionaries; Members of Home Guard Were Ready to Attack No 10, Says BBC Documentary


Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY

THE reputation of Dad's Army as a wartime combination of bumbling old men and callow youths was dramatically revised yesterday.

In fact, the leaders of the Home Guard were revolutionaries dedicated to wrecking Britain if the Germans took over, according to a BBC radio documentary.

Contrary to the Corporation's much-loved TV series about Captain Mainwaring and his inept platoon, their latest account of the Home Guard features trained assassins and terrorists.

As part of Radio Four's Document series broadcast last night, it reveals that the guard was a revolutionary militia headed by dedicated Marxists rather than blundering enthusiasts.

A number of leaders of the Home Guard actually planned to 'turn their force's guns on Downing Street if Britain made peace with Hitler,' according to Document.

It revealed that in 1940 the BBC had made a programme meant to rally the guard's million members but this was pulled off the air at the height of the invasion crisis amid fears about its loyalty.

The Home Guard is best known now through the Corporation's Dad's Army series and its characters - the pompous bank manager and his public school- educated deputy Wilson, Private Frazer repeatedly saying 'We're doomed', and Lance Corporal Jones and his defiant philosophy 'they don't like it up 'em'.

But Document, parts of which were also broadcast on the flagship Today Programme, said the organisation was formed in May 1940 by revolutionary Marxist Tom Wintringham in response to growing pressure for a militia to resist the expected German invasion.

Wintringham was a writer for the popular Picture Post magazine.

He had fought in the Spanish Civil War and opened a school for Home Guard members which taught how to make home-made bombs and how to kill with a wire garotte or a knife.

Wintringham had also been jailed for sedition during the General Strike in 1926 and founded the communist newspaper Daily Worker in 1930. He was wounded twice fighting for the communistdominated International Brigade in Spain in 1937 and returned to England.

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