‘Duke of Windsor’ and ‘Bing Crosby’ were in our Home Guard

LOOKS LIKE ... members of the 8th Battalion (South Shields) Home Guard.
LOOKS LIKE ... members of the 8th Battalion (South Shields) Home Guard.

A LOT of the appeal of old photographs is being able to search for faces of folk that you know.

But it can also be fun to pick out others that are familiar for quite different reasons. I’ll come to that in a minute.

First of all, several readers were interested in that picture of the Home Guard in Shields, loaned by the daughter of Bob Eddon, who was on it.

I speculated that it had been taken outside the Londonderry Hall in the town, but I’ve since been reminded that the headquarters of what was the 8th Durham Battalion (South Shields) Home Guard was actually Bolingbroke Hall, now demolished.

I then heard again from former Shields lad Tom Jarvis, now across in Canada, who thought he recognised his father on it.

Tom had earlier been in touch about mysterious tunnels in and around the town centre, remembering ones he played in, in the embankment behind Queen Street, as a boy.

He says, by the way, that the picture of a workman crawling through one of the tunnels found under the old Market Hotel showed those to be different in proportion to the ones he and his pals frequented.

“It was considerably smaller than the ones I remember behind Queen Street, as they were big enough to walk upright in.

“If I remember correctly, they were also concrete and square, though after 70 years I’m a little vague on that,” he says.

To turn to the accompanying picture, this is from Tom and is of H Company of the 8th Battalion Shields’ Home Guard.

He’s pretty sure that his father is on the extreme left of the front row.

More whimsically, he adds: “Second from the right in the front is the ‘The Duke of Windsor,’ whilst on his right, wearing Warrant Officer badges, is ‘Bing Crosby’.”

And indeed if you look, the likenesses are astonishing.

With his tongue firmly and in his cheek, Tom adds: “With a little imagination, Adolph Hitler and Rudolph Hess can also be found in there. How did we ever win the war?!”