Home Guard, outside Benninga's
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|Notes / History||It is possible that the men shown here were employees of Benninga's margarine factory on Mortimer Road in Mitcham. Like many platoons of the Home Guard this one, seen drilling outside the factory, had no uniforms and few guns.
The Home Guard, popularly known as ‘Dad’s Army’, was established in 1940 when the then Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden appealed ‘to all men between 17 and 65 who had handled any weapon of offence or defence and were willing to enrol in a citizen army’.
The 57th (Surrey) Mitcham Home Guard was one of twelve Surrey battalions attached to the East Surrey Regiment during the second world war. The East Surrey Regiment’s battalions worked closely with their Home Guard: officers and N.C.O.s gave lectures, and platoons gave training demonstrations and helped with the Home Guard exercises. Army units often participated in the same exercises, sometimes adopting the role of an enemy attack force. No fewer than 568 men of the East Surrey Home Guard Battalions became casualties, a number of them killed (History of the East Surrey Regiment Vol 4 by David Scott Daniell)
Benninga (Mitcham) Ltd. was a Dutch company that set up factories in Hull and Mitcham during the 1930s to avoid import tariffs. It produced a range of margarines called Sunniface, Wayside and BBM (Butter Blended Margarine) It also had its own brand lard called Lardex and Vitsu, a shredded beef suet.
The company, which occupied a large site on Mortimer Road in Mitcham, was voluntarily wound up by its owners in 1965 and all the buildings on the site were demolished.