Home Guard

The Home Guard was made up of men considered too old for military service, some being former WWI veterans. Other recruits may have been people unfit for military service, or in reserved occupations. What they lacked in Military hardware they made up for in enthusiasm. They were organised on military lines, and usually drilled in local church halls learning field-crafts, aircraft recognition, first aid and the like. But they also learnt military tactics and took part in exercises with the army.

In Gilford they drilled in the old silent picture house (now moved to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra). The building was also used as a shooting practice range. Training was usually given by former First World War Veterans. Many in Gilford were former B Specials. They used a range of weapons – Sten guns, thunder-flashes etc. In Gilford the men were all fairly young. Locals recall them exercising at the side of Pentlands shop (now Blytheswood), where they dropped down from upstairs windows, rescued colleagues etc.

There were many mock battles against Moyallon and Gilford guards, often taking place around the blacksmith’s shop at the bottom of Hill Street (Keady Row). Other battles took place on Whinney Hill involving the Tandragee guardsmen. There was a lot of rivalry between the various groups.