This archive footage from British Pathé shows the crashed wreck of a German Dornier Do 17, apparently shot down by concentrated rifle fire, in the first such victory for the Home Guard.
Eventually, as seen, Home Guard units would receive dedicated anti-aircraft equipment and training, and while better known for their other duties, throughout the war the Home Guard manned a number of light and heavy anti-aircraft batteries. From early 1942 rocket systems based on the 3-inch Z Battery rocket system were also transferred Home Guard units.
One Home Guard ‘Ack Ack’ Gunner, Joe Carley, of the 71st Manchester Heavy Anti-Aircraft (Home Guard) Battery, reflected on one raid that passed over Chatham, Kent, in February 1944:
“Eventually we heard the longed for word ‘Fire’ and the guns roared out – deafening at least me with their first salvo for I had omitted the precaution of using cotton wool to stuff my ears against the blast.
“The pyrotechnic exhibition in the sky was marvellous to us comparatively uninitiated Northerners. The surrounding AA sites, the ships in the Thames estuary and River Medway, the 4.5s, the 3.7s and the Bofors Guns were all in action and the sky was filled with bursting shells, tracers, rocket projectiles and the brightness of numerous searchlights. On the horizon fires glowed in three directions, caused by enemy bombs.”
“Deaf though I was, I felt a strange feeling of exhilaration and satisfaction at having helped to fire at ‘Jerry’. I felt somehow that all the training, discipline, crawling through fields, manoeuvres, sentry duties, lectures, rifle shooting, grenade throwing etc. had not all been quite in vain.
“I joined the Home Guard to ‘have a smack at Jerry’ and the fact we’d had an opportunity of hitting back gave me a feeling of well-being.”