LDV/Home Guard - R Sterndale Bennett Researching Rutland	Registered Charity No 700273 Rutland Local History & Record Society
Many local historians of Rutland will have had reason to be grateful for the work undertaken by Robert Sterndale Bennett to collate and map the field names of Rutland. When the Local Defence Volunteers (sometimes referred to rather unkindly as ‘Look, Duck and Vanish’) were formed in May 1940, Major R Sterndale Bennett TD, Director of Music at Uppingham School and a member of a musical family, was appointed Platoon Commander, Uppingham and District, No. 4 Platoon which transitioned into ‘D Company of the Rutland Home Guard’. In October 1940, RSB resigned his Command of 'D' Company owing to pressure of work at Uppingham School. He remained a member of the Home Guard as a private until, in January 1942, he became Battalion Intelligence Officer and Chief Guide with the rank of Captain. It was in this role that he researched and prepared his map of field names. At a time when Britain was expecting an invasion, every effort was being made to remove obvious navigation aids so as to make it difficult for a foreign force to find its way around the countryside. It was thought that local communities could help to defend their homes by using their knowledge of the area and that field names could act as a way to accurately identify the location of an incident such as a bomb or a crashed aircraft, or indeed any enemy positions, by using local names which the enemy would be unlikely to understand – and which wouldn’t require the informant to use or understand National Grid map references. Click here to read the presentation notes which RSB devised to be used in the training of LDV troops in the art of war and particularly defence. The notes cover a wide range of topics which include identifying a German spy/parachutist, selecting the best field of fire, taking prisoners, identifying important structures to defend, and much more. Also included are the original government training documents, and subsequent updates, from which he developed his more locally targeted notes. The Rutland field names were recorded on Ordnance Survey 2½" maps, and these are available to see in Rutland County Museum (RCM) and the Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office. RCM also has RSB’s extensive collection of photographs of railway and river bridges, and Uppingham School Archives have a folder of RSB’s Home Guard documents.