25 OCTOBER 1940, Page 3

The Home Guard

The Home Guard, as Sir Edward Grigg reported last Saturday, is as much a part of the armed forces of the Crown as the Grenadier Guards—as an over-audacious enemy at any time may discover to his cost. It is promised that as soon as possible all will be equipped with battle-dress, greatcoats, steel helmets, rifles and machine-guns—and great progress has already been made in providing these essentials of active service. The Home Guards now number 1,700,000, and are rightly counted upon as an invaluable element in home defence, releasing the Regular Army for other duties. But their functions are of a special character. It is of the essence of each unit that it is a local force, consisting of men who know the locality intimately, and are capable of acting quickly in a local emergency before more highly organised troops can 'be sum- moned. Much of the drill and training required by ordinary soldiers is not needed by them, yet they have duties of their own for which a special branch of training is highly important. For this purpose the school at Osterley Park came into being. It is to be replaced by a new central training school on a country estate in the Home Counties, where commanders and section leaders will undergo short intensive courses under favourable conditions. On these in their turn will devolve the duty of training the rank and file of Home Guards in the various districts. Thus a certain uniformity in training will be ensured for the whole force, but always in accordance with the principle that there must be the utmost elasticity in meeting the needs °f each area, and allowing for the fullest development of initiative. -