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Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Guarding Home

On the 14th of May 1940 Anthony Eden put-forth a call for volunteers to help defend the UK. These were called the LDV and would later be renamed to the Home Guard. In 1968 the BBC broadcast the series Dads Army, which has, unfortunately, skewed the modern view of the Home Guard. The Home Guard was, eventually, a well-equipped force with significant amounts of training, and were a vital part of the defence of the UK during the war. In 1943 the Home Guard entered into ground combat with Axis forces.

Home Guard advancing through a collection of ruins.
On the 9th of July 1943, Private Charles Hands, from Liverpool, of the Pioneer Corps was supervising a POW work party. It consisted of seven Italians. One of which was named Antonio Amedeo, who had been born on the 21st of January 1920 in Calabria, and had later been captured at Tobruk. There is an unconfirmed rumour that the Italians wished to have a talk to some Land Army ladies who were working nearby but were not allowed.
Whatever the reason, Amedeo attacked Pvt Hands with a hedging hook, brutally killing him. Amedeo then grabbed Pvt Hands rifle, which was fully loaded with ten rounds, and fled into the nearby Kimbolton park.
The local Home Guard battalions, and police, turned out to conduct a search for this individual, however, no sign of him was found on the 9th, or 10th. That evening with still no sign of the escapee two of the Home Guards, a father and son, returned home. Their house was at Grange farm, about halfway between Swineshead and Wood End, and almost directly south west of Kimbolton, and about two miles from where Amedeo was last seen. These two Home Guards were the father, Bernard Shelton, and his son, John Michael Shelton, who was aged just 18.

About 1800 John finished his evening meal and got up to go feed the chickens. As he stepped out into the passageway, he came face to face with Amedeo. The Italian raised his captured rifle and fired, narrowly missing John. Then he bolted, running up some nearby stairs.
Amedeo had entered the farm earlier in the day via the dairy. To enable himself to sneak about better he had removed his boots, before helping himself to food from the larder.
Men of the Bedfordshire Home Guard. The Shelton's were part of the 5th Battalion Bedfordshire Home Guard.

John grabbed his own rifle, turned and ran up a second staircase. Upon reaching the second floor he advanced down the hallway cautiously checking for Amedeo. In the end he found the Italian in his sisters’ bedroom. The Italian was covering the main staircase which he had fled up, not realising there was a second way onto the floor. John charged into the room, Amedeo must have been taken by surprise as John was able to get the first shot off, hitting Amedeo in the chest and killing him instantly.

For his initiative, quick reactions and bravery Pvt Shelton was awarded the British Empire Medal, and became the only Home Guardsmen to enter into ground combat in the Second World War.


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