Part-time army for Spalding’s defence

Gordon Nottingham.
Gordon Nottingham.

It’s a little know fact, but Spalding was captured by the ‘enemy’ during the Second World War.

Our foes stole through road blocks set up around the outskirts of the town by cunningly laying down flat on the floor... of a Lincolnshire Road Car bus. They were waved through the blockade by friendly Spalding Home Guard members.

Luckily for the people of Spalding, the ‘enemy’ were members of Holbeach and Long Sutton Home Guard, according to Spalding resident Gordon Nottingham.

Gordon, of Regent Street, says he lived with his uncle Charlie Mawer, known as Ike, and Charlie’s parents.

Charlie worked at the sugar beet factory and was a member of the Home Guard, equipped with a rifle, a bayonet, and one round of ammunition.

Gordon used to see the Home Guard practising throwing hand grenades and recalls one landing at the feet of the man who’d thrown it.

He said: “While on exercise in Clay Lake the officer ordered his men to follow him through a dyke filled with water. He came out soaked while the men went further up the field and crossed the dyke on a wooden plank!”

The Home Guard existed to protect those at home from invasion by the Nazis, and Gordon recalls one evening the ‘real thing’ was enacted.

He says: “On that exercise a local vet suffered a severe injury. Rumour has it he looked down a gun barrel to see why it was not working and it went off.”

Gordon experienced the wrath of one officer when, on the way to the Odeon Cinema in Priory Road, he was challenged with the words, ‘Halt. Who goes there? Friend or foe?’. Gordon cheekily responded ‘foe’ and says now: “I was told in no uncertain manner if I did it again he would shoot me!”

However, he also earned their praise on another occasion when he allowed a ‘German officer’ to walk into a trap on the corner of Park Road and Pennygate.

He says: “The Home Guard to a man was dedicated to protecting us. They were part-time army of men who were dedicated to the task of our defence and the enemy would have been faced with a fighting force.”