WW2 and the Home Guard

In 1940 Collingwood Ingram was Commander of the Home Guard in Benenden, at first known as Local Defence Volunteers. Typically he kept a full record of the talks he gave to his men, but unlike in WW1 he did not keep a regular journal. There is a single evocative entry for 26 May 1940 inserted into an older journal. This was the extreme low-point of the war, when the British Expeditionary Force was routed by the Germans and was retreating to Dunkirk. The relative success of the Dunkirk evacuation lay ahead and it looked very much as if the war was lost and the German would invade. On this day Collingwood Ingram wrote as follows...........

26 May 1940

'The end of all happiness seems to be approaching. Dark destiny thunders loudly and ominously in the air all day and all night. The dull crumpling roar of distant artillery throbs increasingly in our ears – like the angry, muffled roar of some all-destroying monster.

    Tonight, when I was out on my rounds, visiting the Patrols of the Local Defence Volunteers (I am in command of those in the Benenden area), for a brief space of time this awesome, nerve-wracking sound was completely drowned by the ecstatic outpouring of a nightingale. Never have I heard this bird sing more loudly or more exquisitely. The powerful musical notes filled the night with a resonant melody that was like an epitome of passionate joy. I stopped my car and lingered awhile, listening to this great, heartening voice and for a brief, for a very brief, space forgot all else.

    A little later I passed on to my next Patrol. There was no joy to be found here. Only the wail of a little owl interrupted the thunder of the guns. All along the southern skyline, their flashes flickered like summer lightning, a lightning that spelt death and destruction across that narrow strip of water.'



To see a sample of the Home Guard talks click on 'download' below

Home Guard 1940 sample.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 21.4 KB

During the war he continued to study Japanese cherries in preparation for his book Ornamental Cherries, published in 1948