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Perhaps best known through the television series, “Dad’s Army”, the Local Defence Volunteers or LDV were responsible for many things, most notably they were the first line of defence should the Nazi’s expected invasion attempt ever be successful.
‘Local Defence Volunteers’ was soon changed to ‘Home Guard’ because the former was considered too long a title. Because the majority of volunteers were too old for general conscription, the term ‘Dad’s Army’ was used as an affectionate nickname, but the force was by no means just populated by old men.
Any man between the ages of 17 and 65 years could join, and many of the volunteers were men who were young but had failed the military medicals and so were unable to sign up.
Training was in the evenings and the Guard would receive instruction in such activities as unarmed combat, weapons handling and even sabotage!
It was thought that there would be around 150,000 volunteers over the course of the war but within 24 hours of Anthony Eden’s radio broadcast asking for volunteers they had 250,000 men and, by August of 1940, over 1½ million men had served in the Home Guard—10 times the number that had been expected.
Thankfully no invasion ever took place but it must have been exciting to learn all of the things that they were taught.