Immediately after the German breakthrough on the western front in May, 1940, the British Government issued a call for volunteers from the civilian population to form a Home Guard to assist in the defense of the British Isles if and when the German forces attempted an invasion from the captured ports along the European coast. By this time, thirty-five Forestry camps were operating in Scotland and Northern England. Large numbers of men from the Unit immediately volunteered fro the Home Guard, and they were posted to the nearest local commands. They continued to serve until they were transferred to the highlands at the close of logging operations in the south. By the middle of 1942 the Unit was concentrated in the larger forests of the Scottish Highlands, in camps of between sixty and one hundred men.
The military authorities felt that owing to the potential danger of an enemy landing on the less well defended areas of Northeast Scotland, and the time required to mobilize local defense forces, there was a need for a mobile force that could be assembled and moved to any threatened area on very short notice. Discussions took place with officers of the Forestry Unit and a decision was reached to ask for volunteers to form a battalion consisting entirely of officers and men of the Unit. The response was tremendous, with large numbers enlisting, and within a fortnight, the 3d Inverness (Newfoundland) Battalion Home Guard, had a compliment of over seven hundred men. This Battalion had the distinction of being the only Home Guard unit composed entirely of men from overseas who were serving in Britain on specialized war work.
The commanding officer was the officer in charge of the Newfoundland Foresters, Captain Jack Turner, who was immediately promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. J.M. Curran Jr. was appointed second-in-command with the rank of Major. Major Peter North of the Royal Scots was training officer, and Captain C.C. Machon, RA.S.C., quartermaster. The appointments were effective on the 30th September, 1942. J.G. Martin was promoted to Major and second-in-command of the Battalion on 23d of September, 1943 when Major J.M. Curran returned to Newfoundland. Captain K. Goudie, H.L.I. joined the Battalion as adjutant on the 1st of June, 1943 and was succeeded by Captain W. Wishart on October 18th, 1943.
The Battalion was formed in to three operational companies and HQ company.All training and exercises were carried out after working hours, on week ends, or on annual or special leave. An assault course and rifle range were constructed at one of the abandoned logging sites at Carrbridge, and it was used extensively by other Home Guard and regular army units. Basic training was conducted at the camps several nights a week and training exercises usually were conducted on week ends. Officers and N.C.O.'s attended training cadres and courses both at Battalion HQ, Carrbridge, or at army training centres in Edinburgh, Bridge of Earn, and Inverness. In addition, several groups took part in commando training courses at various bases in the Highlands.
The role of the Battalion was, in the words of Brigadier J.S. Davenport, Sub Area Commander Northern District, " to provide a mobile striking force on counter-attack lines at various focal points in the area". In a letter to Major J.M. Curran after his return to Newfoundland, the Brigadier continued that "they were to be trained accordingly, to be strictly mobile and ready for any offensive operation as required. One company was to report to my HQ at Ness-side House for use anywhere in the area, and others were to report to the Garrison Commander (Lord Gough) at Inverness. I can say with truth, that they were the only unit in the area that I felt I could always count upon to arrive at a given place in correct numbers and I knew that any task given them would be carried out to the best of their ability. Had any Germans landed in the area it was always a question of time in getting reinforcements to assist the local Highlanders and we very often carried out exercises with this 3d Battalion to to test out this time factor.
The Brigadier also pointed to the loss of money, sleep and rest suffered by the Battalion during their training, which was more rigorous and difficult than in most Highland Battalions.
In 1943 and 1944, the Battalion continued advanced training, with many field exercises preparing them for the defense of the country. Brigadier Davenport and P.H. Dunn, Commissioner of Natural Resources in Newfoundland, sent messages congratulating the Battalion on its success in gaining third place in the Loch Boisdale trophy competition.
The texts of their messages are as follows:
O/C 3d. Inverness (Nfld.)Battalion
Very many congratulations on obtaining third place Loch Boisdale Challenge Trophy against one thousand other Home Guard teams
sgd. Davenport, HQ I.S.D.
Col. Jack Turner, O.B.E., M.C.
Please convey congratulations to men of the Battalion on very good show made in competition for Loch Boisdale Challenge Trophy and congratulations on my behalf Sergeant Owen Dollimont on receiving B.E.M.
sgd. P.D.H. Dunn
Commissioner for Natural Resources
The following honours were awarded to members of the 3d Inverness (Nfld) Battalion:
B.E.M. Sergeant Owen Dollimont "C" Company
Certificates of Merit:
Corporal A. Piercey "C" Company
Private J. Piercey HQ Company
Certificates of good service:
CQMS Ken Crowell "A" Company
Sergeant J. Gilliard "A" Company
Lt./Cpl J. Traverse HQ Company
The British Home Guard was officially stood down on the 31st. of December, 1944, and the Newfoundland Battalion was represented at the National Home Guard stand-down parade in London on December 3d, 1944 by the following men:
Corporal L. Walsh HQ Company
Corporal Les Stoyles "B" Company
L/Corporal H. Wheeler "A" Company
All members of the Forestry Unit who volunteered and served in the British Home Guard were awarded the defense Medal, under conditions described in War Office correspondence dated June 6th, 1946-68/Gen/8070(AGHD):
"In recognition of the service rendered by Officers and ex-Officers of the Home Guard it has been decided, on its disbandment, to grant to them Honorary Rank under conditions defined in Army Order No. 32/1945, notwithstanding any existing entitlement to Rank or Honorary Rank under other regulations by virtue of previous commissioned service. The grant of such Honorary Rank does not carry the right to wear uniform except when specially authorized in connection with Victory Parades"
The following is an extract from the appendix to the above order:
On disbandment of the Home Guard, the following Majors relinquish their appointments, the rank of Major, and are granted the honorary rank of Major with effect from 1st. January 1946 under provision of Army Order No.32/1945.
Curran, J.M. M.B.E.
On disbandment of the Home Guard, the following Captains relinquish their appointments, the rank of Captain, and are granted the honorary rank of Captain with effect from 1st. January 1946 under provision of Army Order No. 32/1945:
On disbandment of the Home Guard, the following Lieutenants relinquish their appointments, the rank of Lieutenant, and are granted the honorary rank of Lieutenant with effect from January 1st 1946 under provision of Army Order No. 32/1945
On disbandment of the Home Guard, the following 2d.Lieutenants relinquish their appointments, the rank of 2d.Lieutenant, and are granted the honorary rank of 2d. Lieutenant with effect from January 1st 1946 under provision of Army Order No. 32/1945
Signed Jack Turner Lt. Col.
(Late) O/C 3d. Inverness (Nfld) Battalion Home Guard
The Newfoundland Battalion was selected as the main group tp represent Newfoundland in the Victory Parade held in London on the 8th. of June, 1946. The following members took part in the parade:
Major Bren Davis
Lieutenant John Mercer
2d. Lt. Jack Power
2d. Lt. Ivan Shea
CQMS Ken Crowell
Sgt. Louis Coulomb
Sgt. Larry Ryan
Cpl. Steve Pike
Cpl. Jack Barker
Cpl. Pat Moriarty
Pte. Ray Tilley
Pte. Wm. Bennett
During their stay in London from the 3d. to the 10th of June, 1946, the men were billeted in Kensington Gardens, which had been transformed into a vast tent camp to accommodate contingents from every corner of the British Empire.
Lt.Co. Turner was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and Joseph Curraqn Jr. made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year's Honor List of 1943, in recognition of their work in the organization and operation of both the Forestry Unit and of the Newfoundland Battalion of the Home Guard.
3d. INVERNESS (NEWFOUNDLAND) BATTALION HOME GUARD