Home Guard (United Kingdom)

The Home Guard (initially Local Defence Volunteers or LDV) was an armed citizen militia supporting the British Army during the Second World War. Operational from 1940 to 1944, the Home Guard had 1.5 million local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, such as those who were too young or too old to join the regular armed services (regular military service was restricted to those aged 18 to 41) and those in reserved occupations. Excluding those already in the armed services, the civilian police or civil defence, approximately one in five men were volunteers. Their role was to act as a secondary defence force in case of invasion by the forces of Nazi Germany.[1][2]

Home Guard
initially "Local Defence Volunteers"
Home Guard post at Admiralty Arch in central London, 21 June 1940
Active14 May 1940 – 3 December 1944
Disbanded31 December 1945
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchBritish Army
RoleDefence from invasion
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Sir Edmund Ironside

The Home Guard were to try to slow down the advance of the enemy even by a few hours to give the regular troops time to regroup. They were also to defend key communication points and factories in rear areas against possible capture by paratroops or fifth columnists. A key purpose was to maintain control of the civilian population in the event of an invasion, to forestall panic and to prevent communication routes from being blocked by refugees to free the regular forces to fight the Germans. The Home Guard continued to man roadblocks and guard the coastal areas of the United Kingdom and other important places such as airfields, factories and explosives stores until late 1944, when they were stood down. They were finally disbanded on 31 December 1945, eight months after Germany's surrender.

Men aged 17 to 65 years could join, although the upper age limit was not strictly enforced. Service was unpaid but gave a chance for older or inexperienced soldiers to support the war effort.