Home Guard Memorial – Corbyn Head
By Adrian Chan-Wyles

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"In memory of Britain's Volunteer Army 1939 - 1944
10th Battalion Home Guard

This granite pyramid, military monument is situated on the green of Corbyn Head, Torquay, in the Livermead area of the famous seaside resort. It was unveiled on Thursday the 11th of August 2005, following a local campaign, and serves three distinct functions, all of which remember the sacrifice and bravery of this unique volunteer force. A force comprised of those too young to take their place in the regular armed forces, or of those mature people with much experience, who wanted to form a line of defence for Great Britain, should the brutal and ruthless invasion army of Nazi Germany land on the beaches or drop from the air. The contribution to the morale of this country during that war has sometimes been obscured by the broader events of that conflict.

Nevertheless, the Home Guard formed the backbone to the domestic frontline, and found themselves involved in all kinds of vital defensive duties. This monument is situated on the spot (looking out to sea) where an artillery gun exploded during a training exercise in August 1944 (killing six), and was unveiled on the 61st anniversary of that tragedy. The gun, believed to have been an old WW1, quick firing Japanese model, with a range of three to five miles, was being used in an exercise designed to repel a German invasion of Torquay, from the sea. One of its 50lb shells exploded in the breech causing the loss of life. Torquay was a military training area during World War Two, and as a consequence, suffered many German bombing raids (at least 40), that resulted in the deaths of 168 people – three of whom served in Torquay’s Home Guard.

The various beaches of Devon’s south coast were assigned to Home Guard artillery batteries, whose duties involved the protection of these beaches, and the defence of the air above. The 10th Devonshire Battalion whose area of responsibilty was Torbay was attached to 363 Royal Artillery Coastal Emergency Battery, serving Corbyn Head and with a nominal 'call out' roll of 300 men.

The monument sits in the place of the old artillery gun manned by the Corbyn Head Battery in a commanding position overlooking Torbay.

At the same time as remembering all of those who served in the Home Guard, it remembers specifically the sacrifice of 1,206 Home Guards who gave their lives throughout Great Britain during World War Two (1939-44).  Indeed, in this regard, it is designated a 'national' memorial.

Remembering the 1,206 Home Guards who gave their lives across the country

As a local monument of remembrance, important to the Torbay area, it further commemorates the loss of five Home Guards - transferred from normal Home Guard duties, to man the coastal defences - who together, with their Royal Artillery Regimental Sergeant Major, died in 1944 when their artillery gun exploded during a training exercise, and the loss of three other Home Guards who gave their lives during enemy bombing raids in Torquay in 1942.

Remembering those who died when their Artillery gun exploded on this spot.

"Killed on active service at Corbyn Head
11th August 1944
Gnr. G. Buckingham
Gnr. W.G. Houghton
L/Bdr. J.H. Fishwick
L/Bdr. F.G. Wellington
Gnr. W.S. Kinch
Royal Artillery
WO1 F.W.J. Blackett (RSM)"

Remembering those Home Guards who died in bombing raids over Torquay

"Killed by enemy action
Gnr. C. R. Crocker
Barton Gas Works Bombing - June 1942
Pte. A Rowe and Pte. S.J. Weeks (Ginger)
Palace Hotel - October 25th 1942"


Grateful acknowledgement is made to
Adrian Chan-Wyles for writing the above article and generously permitting its publication on this page.

Text and images © Adrian Chan-Wyles 2011.

See also information provided by the same author within this website on Brixham.

The Brixham Battery Heritage Centre website also provides further information.