Home Guard Officer Lists 1939-45
Exclusive to Forces War Records
These records are a nominal roll of officers serving in the Home Guard in the Second World War.
The records personal information and other service information such as length of service in the Home Guard and discharge details for each individual.
Home Guard battalions were formed on an area basis, normally covering towns or districts. The records have been described at the level of each individual.
There were over 1200 separate home Guard units across the UK, these have all been cross matched against individual records.
On the evening of 14 May 1940 the Secretary of State for War, Anthony Eden, gave a radio broadcast announcing the formation of the Local Defence Volunteers and called for volunteers to join the force.
In the radio announcement, Eden called on men between the ages of 17 and 65 in Britain, who were not in military service but wished to defend their country against an invasion, to enrol in the LDV at their local police station.
The announcement was met with a great deal of enthusiasm on the part of the population, with 250,000 volunteers attempting to sign up in the first seven days; by July this number increased to 1.5 million.
As volunteers and social groups such as cricket clubs began forming their own units, dubbed 'the parashots' by the press, the War Office continued to lay down the administrative and logistical foundations for the organisation.
In telegrams to the Lord Lieutenants of each county, it was explained that LDV units would operate in pre-defined military areas already used by the regular Army, with a General Staff Officer coordinating with civilian regional commissioners to divide these areas into smaller zones; in London this was organised on the basis of police districts.
On 17 May the LDV achieved official legal status when the Privy Council issued the Defence (Local Defence Volunteers) Order in Council, and orders were issued from the War Office to regular Army headquarters throughout Britain explaining the status of LDV units; volunteers would be divided into sections, platoons and companies but would not be paid and leaders of units would not hold commissions or have the power to command regular forces.
However, implementation of the legislation proved to be extremely difficult, particularly as the primary focus of the War Office and General Headquarters Home Forces was on Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk between 27 May to 4 June.
This apparent lack of focus led to many LDV members becoming impatient, particularly when it was announced that volunteers would only receive armbands printed with 'L.D.V.' on them until proper uniforms could be manufactured and there was no mention of weapons being issued to units; this impatience often led to units conducting their own patrols without official permission, often led by men who had previously served in the armed forces.
The presence of many veterans, and the appointment of ex-officers as commanders of LDV units, only worsened the situation, with many believing that they did not require training before being issued weapons; this led to numerous complaints being received by the War Office and the press, and many ex-senior officers attempting to use their influence to obtain weapons or permission to begin patrolling.
Another problem that was encountered as the LDV was organised was the definition of the role the organisation was to play. In the eyes of the War Office and the Army, the LDV was to act as 'an armed police constabulary' which in the event of an invasion was to observe German troop movements, convey information to the regular forces and guard places of strategic or tactical importance. The War Office believed that the LDV would act best in such a passive role because of its lack of training, weapons and proper equipment.
However such a role clashed with the expectations of LDV commanders and members, who believed that the organisation would be best suited to an active role, attacking and harassing German forces. This clash led to morale problems and even more complaints to the press and the War Office from LDV members who were opposed to, as they saw it, the government leaving them defenceless and placing them in a non-combatant role.
Complaints about the role of the LDV, as well as continuing problems encountered by the War Office in its attempts to clothe and arm the LDV, led the government to respond to public pressure in August, redefining the role of the LDV to include delaying and obstructing German forces through any means possible.
At the same time Winston Churchill, who had assumed the position of Prime Minister in May, became involved in the matter after being alerted to the problems, obtaining a summary of the current LDV position from the War Office on 22 June. After reviewing the summary, Churchill wrote to Eden stating that, in his opinion, one of the main causes of disciplinary and morale problems stemmed from the uninspiring title of the LDV and suggesting that it be renamed as the 'Home Guard'.
Despite resistance from Eden and other government officials, who noted that one million 'LDV' armbands had already been printed and the cost of printing another million 'Home Guard' armbands would be excessive, Churchill would not be dissuaded; on 22 July the LDV was officially renamed the Home Guard.
The Home Guard also served as one of a number of covers for the Auxiliary Units, an extremely secretive force of more highly trained volunteer resistance troops that would function as guerrilla units if the UK was invaded, records of these are exceptionally rare.
Records in this collection are likely to include the following:
- sub division
- medals awarded
- position within command structure (if applicable).
Please be aware that due to the way we collate, and cross reference our databases,
some records will contain more information than that listed above.
Original Source: Home Guard list (various) 1941 Savannah.
The London Gazette (each medal award is listed on the record).
The national archives:
WO 409, WO199/3360
Various regional archives.
Some of the material on this page was also partially derived from
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Home Guard Officer Lists 1939-45