History Of The Home Service Force
Formed in 1985 by the Thatcher Government at the height of the Cold War, the Home Service Force (HSF) bolstered the UK’s Home Defence assets. HSF units were primarily tasked to defend Key Points throughout the UK against sabotage from enemy Special Forces.
Following a brief advertising campaign, there was no shortage of volunteers and units were formed throughout the UK. The HSF was a limited commitment branch of the Territorial Army/Reserves and its members were personnel who had previously served in the armed forces. This military service could have been with the Army, Navy or Air Force, MoD Police or as adult instructors in the Army, Navy or Air Cadet Forces. Reserve forces of significant length of service were also eligible.
HSF soldiers who were originally familiar with the Lee-Enfield .303 rifle, were rapidly re-trained to use the SLR and later the SA80. Units were very quickly brought up to operational readiness and the experience and enthusiasm of the mature volunteers ensured the success of the HSF concept, a truly brilliant idea.
Soldiers serving in the HSF brought with them broad and varied military experience. Veterans of many conflicts were to be found in the ranks including men who had served in Korea, Malaya, Kenya, Northern Ireland and the Falklands. The many ranks and trades from the three services were well represented. The initial problem was that many who joined had previously held rank, some as officers, some as warrant officers and many as non-commissioned officers (NCOs). The selection of those who were to fill the appointments in a new HSF Company was a difficult task and one which each unit had to solve in its own way. The atmosphere in an HSF unit was very businesslike. Initially training was very intensive with everyone familiarising themselves with weapons, equipment, tactics and developing teamwork. It did not take long for these experienced servicemen to get back into the military routine. Every man knew what had to be done and got on with job in hand, whether it was digging trenches, patrolling or cleaning weapons and equipment at the end of each Exercise (known as “ENDEX”).
Inevitably there was intense rivalry between the HSF company and its sponsor unit. The maxim “youth and enthusiasm will overcome age and experience” was disproved time and again on exercise as the knowledge and skill of HSF soldiers learned over decades proved decisive. From time to time the more mature warriors of the HSF were met with the greeting:
“Who the hell are you lot?”
After disbandment which commenced in 1992, many HSF units formed their own associations. In 1997 the national HSF Association was created. Many local HSF Associations are very active and organise their own social events such as reunion dinners, camping, canoeing, shooting, archery, map reading, hill walking and rambling. These are open to ALL ex-HSF members.
The HSF Association is organised on democratic lines with every unit contributing to its running,
The HSF Association is in the process of researching a book which will be the definitive history of the HSF, with each unit telling its own unique story. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to start a benevolent fund for ex-HSF personnel.
Home Service Force companies were normally affiliated to either a regular army or a territorial army battalion. The table below details the 48 Home Service Force Units formed to boost UK home defence during the Cold War.
The original HSF Batteries, Squadrons & Companies raised 1982 – 85, by contemporary military District,
showing HSFA Unit-Association-Branch Callsign* , correct military title, host Battalion or Regiment, HQ base & modern host Regiment/Corps
*These Callsigns were not used during 1982 – 1992. ………….A Callsign is a sort of identity code.
They are a modern day invention of the HSF Association, in 2011, to help distinguish between Veterans’ Groups (“Units”) which were based upon military formations whose titles were long and complicated and prone to misquote. It’s very easy to muddle up E Company and F Company of 5th, 6th or 7th Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, or 6th or 7th Battalion The Light Infantry, for example.
Callsigns reflect the order, within District, listed in contemporary records at the time (and also on the Plinth in The Home Service Force Grove at The National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire) with additional callsigns created for “Units” comprising HSF Veterans who served in Detached Platoons, based in adjacent Counties or Towns, but looking to the Headquarters of their HSF Battery, Squadron or Company for orders and/or leadership, which might have been 30, or more, miles away.
11 - Z (HSF) Company, 1st Bn The 51st Highland Volunteers (Perth)
12 - Y (HSF) Company, 2nd Bn The 51st Highland Volunteers (Elgin)
13 - X (HSF) Company, 2nd Bn The 51st Highland Volunteers (Aberdeen)
14 - W (HSF) Company, 3rd Bn The 51st Highland Volunteers (Stirling)
15 - F (HSF) Company, 1st Bn The 52nd Lowland Volunteers (Ayr)
16 - G (HSF) Company, 1st Bn The 52nd Lowland Volunteers (Dumfries)
17 - 5 (HSF) Company, 2nd Bn The 52nd Lowland Volunteers (Edinburgh)
North East District
21 - S (HSF) Company, 6th (V) Bn The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Newcastle upon Tyne)
22 - E (HSF) Company, 7th (V) Bn The Light Infantry (Bishop Auckland)
23 - H (HSF) Company, 2nd Bn The Yorkshire Volunteers (York)
24 - H (HSF) Company, 3rd Bn The Yorkshire Volunteers (Huddersfield)
25 - H (HSF) Company, 4th Bn The Yorkshire Volunteers (Sheffield)
26 - 347 (HSF) Signals Squadron, 11 Signal Regiment, (Catterick)
27 - 300/301 (HSF) Squadron, The Royal Corps of Transport, (Hull & Leconfield)
31 - F (HSF) Company, 6th (V) Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment (Norfolk)
32 - 5 (HSF) Company, 5th (V) Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment (Cambs)
33 - 6 (HSF) Company, 5th (V) Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment (Essex)
34 - E (HSF) Company, 6th (V) Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment (Beds & Herts)
35 - E (HSF) Company, 7th (V) Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment (Leics & Lincs)
36 - F (HSF) Company; 3rd Bn (V) Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regiment (Notts)
37 – G (HSF) Company, 3rd Bn (V) Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regiment (Derbys)
South East District
41 - E (HSF) Company, 2nd Bn The Wessex Regiment (V) (R.Berks, Hants & Wilts)
42 - E (HSF) Company, 5th (V) Bn The Queen’s Regiment (Kent & East Sussex)
43 - E (HSF) Company, 6th/7th (V) Bn The Queen’s Regiment (Surrey & West Sussex)
44 - I (HSF) Company, 5th (V) Bn The Royal Green Jackets (Aldershot)
51 – A (HSF) Company, The Honourable Artillery Company (London EC1)
52 - B (HSF) Company, The Honourable Artillery Company (London EC1)
53 - 5 (HSF) Company, 10th (V) Bn The Parachute Regiment (London SW3)
54 - 348 (HSF) Squadron, The Inns of Court & City Yeomanry, Royal Signals (London SE9)
55 - H (HSF) Company, 4th (V) Bn The Royal Green Jackets (London W1)
South West District
61 - E (HSF) Company, 6th (V) Bn The Light Infantry (Somerset & Avon)
62 - F (HSF) Company, 6th (V) Bn The Light Infantry (Cornwall)
63 - E (Wiltshire Yeomanry HSF) Squadron, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry (Old Sarum, Wilts)
64 - 302 (HSF) Squadron, The Royal Corps of Transport South Cerney RLC
65 G (HSF) Company 4th Bn The Devonshire & Dorset Regt Exeter Rifles
71 E (HSF) Company 3rd (V) Bn The Royal Welch Fusiliers Wrexham R.Welsh
72 E (HSF) Company 3rd (V) Bn The Royal Regiment of Wales Cardiff R.Welsh
73 E (HSF) Company 4th (V) Bn The Royal Regiment of Wales Swansea R.Welsh
81 F (HSF) Company 1st Bn (V) The Mercian Volunteers Worcs Mercian
82 G (HSF) Company 5th (V) Bn The Royal Regt of Fusiliers Coventry RRF
83 E (HSF) Company 2nd Bn The Mercian Volunteers Walsall Mercian
84 18 (HSF)(Ind) Platoon 5th Bn (V) The Light Infantry Hereford Rifles
85 D (HSF) Company (later Squadron) 15 Bn RAOC (later The Queens Own Mercian Yeomanry) Shropshire RLC/RMLY
North West District
91 C (HSF) Squadron The Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry Chorley RMLY
92 A (HSF) Battery 103 Light Air Defence Regt, Lancashire Artillery Volunteers Liverpool RA
93 E (HSF) Company 4th (V) Bn The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment Lancaster Lancs
94 E (HSF) Company 5th/8th (V) Bn The King’s Regiment Cheshire Lance
95 E (HSF) Company 3rd (V) Bn The Cheshire Regiment Cheshire Lancs
- The HSFA Unit-Association-Branch Number is allocated from June 2011 to cater for the complexity of names and titles..
- Some HSF Troops & Platoons were based in separate Cities or Towns, and hosted by TA Batteries, Squadrons or Companies
There will be absolutely no reference to existing or currently serving Territorial Army personnel or formations. Where locations occupied by HSF personnel between 1982 and 1992 remain in use by the serving formations, they may be referred to by name with addresses, but no details of their construction or facilities is to be given or referred to. Similarly, no images will be displayed which indicate a specific location. If a restricted area, page or linked website is created, then more information may be shown there, after clearance from the appropriate authorities.
This page deals with the HSF Batteries, Squadrons and Companies (in uniform) formed between 1982 and 1992 (when the HSF was disbanded).
The page will have links to individual pages holding information about specific HSF batteries, squadrons and companies. This historical information, which may contain images, will come from material already supplied to the HSFA, recently offered verbally or by email/correspondence, or supplied via HSFA Unit representatives after visiting this website.
Four HSF Companies were formed in 1982 and their early history will be shown here, by agreement with HSFA Unit representatives.
This page will also deal with the HSF engagement (or contract of employment) and compare it with the normal TA engagement. Where possible, some explanation will be given about how host Regiments or Battalions managed their HSF troops, bearing in mind the HSF role was restricted to Home Defence only.
This page will deal with the typical tasks carried out by HSF soldiers and officers when in camp (barracks) and also, where possible, when on exercise training with their parent regiments or battalions.