The Home Front is the name given to life in general at home in Great Britain during World War Two. The Government during World War Two, constantly gave out advice on how people should behave – be it regarding food, general behaviour in the war , evacuation etc. This government advice was an attempt to control the way people acted. The bulk of the advice came from the Ministry of Information. Below is a leaflet sent to all homes on what to do if Great Britain was attacked by the Germans. It was produced in co-operation with the War Office and the Ministry of Home Security.
|If the invader comes: what to do – and how to do it.|
The Germans threaten to invade Great Britain. If they do so they will be driven out by our Navy, our Army and our Air Force. Yet the ordinary men and women of the civilian population will also have their part to play. Hitler’s invasions of Poland, Holland and Belgium were greatly helped by the fact that the civilian population was taken by surprise. They did not know what to do when the moment came. You must not be taken by surprise. This leaflet tells you what general line you should take. More detailed instructions will be given you when the danger comes nearer. Meanwhile, read these instructions carefully and be prepared to carry them out.
When Holland and Belgium were invaded, the civilian population fled from their homes. They crowded on the roads, in cars, in carts, on bicycles and on foot, and so helped the enemy by preventing their own armies from advancing against the invaders. You must not allow that to happen here. Your first rule, therefore, is:
- If the Germans come by parachute, aeroplane or ship, you must remain where you are. The order is “stay put”.
If the commander-in-chief decides that the place where you live must be evacuated, he will tell you when and how to leave. Until you receive such orders you must remain where you are. If you run away, you will be exposed to far greater danger because you will be machine-gunned from the air as were civilians in Holland and Belgium, and you will block the roads by which our own armies will advance to turn the Germans out.
There is another method which the Germans adopt in their invasion. They make use of the civilian population in order to create confusion and panic. They spread false rumours and issue false instructions. In order to prevent this, you should obey the second rule, which is as follows:
2) Do not believe rumours and do not spread them. When you receive an order, make sure that it is a true order and not a faked order. Most of you know your policemen and your ARP wardens by sight, you can trust them. If you keep your heads, you can also tell whether a military officer is really British or only pretending to be so. If in doubt, ask the policeman or ARP warden. Use your common sense.
The Army, the Air Force and the Local Defence Volunteers cannot be everywhere at once. The ordinary man and woman must be on the watch. If you see anything suspicious, do not rush round telling you neighbours about it. Go at once to the nearest policeman, police station or military officer and dell them exactly what you saw. Train yourself to notice the exact time and place where you saw anything suspicious, and try to give exact information. Try to check your facts. The sort of report which a military or police officer wants from you is something like this:
“At 5.30 p.m. tonight I saw twenty cyclists come into Little Squashborough from the direction of Great Mudtown. They carried some sort of automatic rifle or gun. I did not see anything like artillery. They were in grey uniforms.”
Be calm, quick and exact. The third rule, therefore, is as follows:
3) Keep watch. If you see anything suspicious, note it carefully and go at once to the nearest police officer or station, or to the nearest military officer. Do not rush around spreading vague rumours. Go quickly to the nearest authority and give him the facts.
Remember that if parachutists come down near your home, they will not be feeling at all brave. They will not know where they are, they will have no food, they will not know where their companions are. They will want you to give them food, means of transport and maps. They will want you to tell them where they have landed, where their comrades are, and where our own soldiers are. The fourth rule, therefore, is as follows:
4) Do not give any German anything. Do not tell him anything. Hide your food and your bicycles. Hide your maps. See that the enemy gets no maps. See that the enemy gets no petrol. If you have a car or motor bicycle, put it out of action when not in use. It is not enough to remove the ignition key; you must make it useless to anyone except yourself.
If you are a garage proprietor, you must work out a plan to protect your stock of petrol and your customers’ cars. Remember that transport and petrol will be the invaders’ main difficulties. Make sure that no invaders will be able to get hold of your cars, petrol, maps or bicycles.
You may be asked by Army and Air Force officers to help in many ways. For instance, the time may come when you will receive orders to block roads or streets in order to prevent the enemy from advancing. Never block a road unless you are told which one you must block. Then you can help by felling trees, wiring them together or blocking the roads with cars. Here, therefore, is the fifth rule:
5) Be ready to help the military in any way. But do not block roads until ordered to do so by the military or LDV authorities.
If you are in charge of a factory, store or other workplace, organise its defence at once. If you are a worker, make sure that you understand the system of defence that has been organised and know what part you have to play in it. Remember that parachutists and fifth column men are powerless against any organised resistance. They can only succeed if they can create disorganisation. Make certain that no suspicious strangers enter your premises.
You must know in advance who is to take command, who is to be second in command, and how orders are to be transmitted. This chain of command must be built up and you will probably find that ex-officers or N.C.O’s who have been in emergencies before, are the best people to undertake such command. The sixth rule is therefore as follows:
6) In factories and shops, all managers and workmen should organise some system now by which a sudden attack can be resisted.
The six rules which you have now read give you a general idea of what to do in the event of invasion. More detailed instructions may, when the time comes, be given you by the Military and Police Authorities and by the Local Defence Volunteers; they will not be given over the wireless as they might convey information to the enemy. These instructions must be obeyed at once.
Remember always that the best defence of Great Britain is the courage of her men and women. Here is your seventh rule:
7) Think before you act. But think always of your country before you think of yourself.