This 1942 booklet is one of many advising the Home Guard of training techniques, which appears to be all that they really ever did. There is no description of who the author Derek Whipp was or how he had come to learn such knowledge, but like many of the published literature of the time it fleets between information and outright propaganda
Opening his account Whipp writes
“Axis tanks must be smashed.
Well, there are plenty of ways, but the censor is naturally reluctant to let me tell you all the devices which the British Army employs. Nazis also read.”
It is of course, like most of the Home Guard activity, supercilious bollocks.
Tank warfare originated in World War One at the battle of the Somme in 1916. Their effectiveness proved fairly poor in coping with the mud and they were practically useless. Although improvements were made by the end of that conflict, it was the second world war where their effectiveness became a major threat when invasion was feared imminent. One can perhaps forgive authors like Whipp at the time for churning out stuff of this type, they did not have the benefit of knowing what would happen, or what it was right to do, but from a modern perspective having read some of the booklets like this, one wonders if the Germans posed a bigger threat to civilians than the occupying uniformed natives.
We learn something of the weaknesses of the vehicle that was feared would wage such destruction on English villages.
Though they would soon be withdrawn at the time of writing, Whipp describes in detail how to use Albright and Wilson’s half pints against this steel menace. He also as with official literature offered at the time to Home Guard units describe how dangerous the AW bombs were to handle.
“PHOSPHORUS BURNS ARE WORSE THAN BURNS RECEIVED BY OTHER MEANS, BECAUSE THE LIQUID STICKS TO THE FLESH.”
Moving on from describing methods using the Northover projector, we have methods that the Ewoks of Endor may be proud of when tackling such destructive aggressors.
Another “Russian tactic” offered was to improvise a false road leading into marshland, where the tank would become bogged down and vulnerable to be a stationary target.
The most interesting page concerning AW bombs is that concerning their storage. Here Whipp informs the reader
“So far, invasion has not reached some countries, and in Britain the Home Guard has used this postphonement to grow from a pitchfork parade to a steel-fisted heavyweight. But have local units decided where they will store their SI.P and thermos grenades? Have they arranged for two and possibly three alternatives?
It will be realised from the description of the S.I.P that it is folly to leave it about for the enemy to smash with lucky shots. Both the S.I.P and the thermos are dangerous when left in the open.
The safest place for storing the former is beneath water. They certainly must not be left in buildings lkely to be affected by enemy action. The cases in which they are delivered, twenty- four at a time, and partitioned, makes it possible to lower them with safety into streams or ponds where they are least likely to do damage if exploded.”
Of course men reading this in the 8th Worcester Home guard in the Langley/Oldbury area would have followed such advice and tactics. We know of course with hindsight that AW bombs would have been utter rubbish for destroying tanks, and Whipp’s bravado was little more than typical patriotism of the time, but the legacy of such folly concerning the burial of such toxic material- that is less funny, and we are still counting the cost today of absent minded guerrilla warfare.