In May 1940, Anthony Eden, Secretary of State for War, made radio broadcast, asking for people to join the war effort, as local defence volunteers. Although
initially, men aged between 40 and 65 years were asked to join, there was such a great outpouring of patriotism by young people from all around the country, that men of all ages formed the, ‘Local Defence Volunteers’.
- This would become the Home Guard.
- They were initially unarmed, having to make do with whatever weapons came to hand, including many agricultural tools
- They were later issued with obsolete weapons and small amounts of ammunition
- They wore armbands to begin with until old uniforms could be found
- Their role was to guard strategic points, watch out for a possible invasion and for German paratroopers.
- Local people also felt heartened at the site of the volunteers. It was another way of everyone pulling together and doing their bit for their country
- Local commanders were left to make their own arrangements regarding training of volunteers and a number of veterans of the Spanish Civil War became involved including George Orwell
- Look at other posts about WWII in our Major Events theme
- Find out more about people in your family tree who were too young or old for active duties or for other reasons were unable to perform active duties, were they part of a local home guard? Explore Counties and Parishes to find local museums and archives that could help you find Home Guard volunteers