Monday 20 June 2011

Scallywags, Michael Foot, and Rabbiting with a Bren Gun

I’m staying inside at the moment and typing very quietly because Billy’s off on one. Back in the war Billy was a scallywag. We can hardly imagine what it was like after Dunkirk and for some (where history is a matter of fate and inevitability) there is no empathy at all for the fear and the reality of facing invasion any day. Had the Axis succeeded in Operation Sealion and taken southern England then the scallywags were officially Home Guard, but actually in no way associated with them. Poachers, gamekeepers, left wing veterans of Spain (and Michael Foot) they were expected to last only weeks, their supplies in their little bunker hides only set for so long. But during which they would assassinate, explode and generally make life miserable for the invader and for collaborators alike – and knowing they were not long for the world an understanding that they would not concern themselves with hostages and reprisals.
There are thought to have been upwards of 6000 trained and supplied for the event, some in small cells, many others loners that knew of no more like them. People of whom ‘a minor Police record was not considered a disadvantage’. After the discovery of one Mr Hanscombe creeping about the neighbourhood with a revolver the scallywags came to be supplied with a letter they could produce that in essence told the authorities civil and military to not query why the local poacher was presumably rabbiting with a bren gun. I'd hope they were to get rid of such papers in the event of invasion, but I don’t like to ask Billy who’s fetched up in our chicken coop at the moment with a De Lisle silenced carbine.
I am told he is waiting for Lord Halifax. Or Lord Alliance & Leicester, he’s easily confused.

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