Last Man Standing – the Local Defence Volunteers – 9 January 2023

A TADS talk by Dale Johnson

Monday 9 January 2023; 8.00 pm at Heath End Village Hall, Heath End Road, Baughurst, RG26 5LU

Dale will talk about talk about the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) before it become known as the Home Guard.

The Home Guard was set up in May 1940 as Britain’s ‘last line of defence’ against German invasion. Members of this ‘Dad’s Army’ were usually men above or below the age of conscription and those unfit or ineligible for front line military service.

On 14 May 1940, Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden made a broadcast calling for men between the ages of 17 and 65 to enrol in a new force, the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV). By July, nearly 1.5 million men had enrolled and the name of this people’s army was changed to the more inspiring Home Guard.

Established nationwide by a BBC wireless appeal on 14 May 1940, the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) re-named The Home Guard (HG) in July 1940, soon became a very effective Defence Force of nearly two million men and many hundreds of women. HG members constructed and manned thousands of road blocks, and made vast numbers of petrol bombs. They patrolled town and country by day and night, on foot, on horseback, on bicycles, on skis, in boats, and even on roller skates! They built and operated hundreds of very assorted ‘homemade’ armoured vehicles of every size, and fired every type of weapon including anti-aircraft guns and rockets. They also trained war dogs and carrier pigeons, and 7,000 members volunteered for bomb disposal. The Home Guard was stood down in December 1944, with an attempted unsuccessful revival 1952-57.

Local Defence Volunteers: 'Old Contemptibles' in the Local Defence Volunteers lined up for inspection. None of the men pictured wear any official uniform except for the LDV armband.

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