The Real Dads Army: Home Front Facts

Dad's Army may have provided a comic portrayal but what was life really like in the Home Guard? Stand to attention and advance on this army of facts.

Dad's Army

AN ARMY OF HOPEFULS

At the beginning of World War II, the Government expected 150,000 men to sign up for what was then known as the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV). By the end of June 1940 the total number of volunteers stood at over one million.

SAY IT WITH PRIDE

Winston Churchill changed the name of the LDV to the Home Guard in August 1940 as he believed the original title to be uninspiring.

FARCICAL DRILLS

It might sound like a scene from Dad's Army, but initially the Home Guard volunteers had to drill with sporting guns, clubs or broom handles because there were no proper weapons available.

HANDLE WITH CARE

One of the weapons eventually supplied to the Home Guard was the Number 74 (ST) Hand Grenade - also known as the 'sticky bomb'. This weapon proved to be so dangerous to handle that the majority of the regular forces refused to use it - so it was issued to the Home Guard instead.

Air raid precautions

Air raid precautions

IT'S MINIMALISM, SIR

Like Mainwaring's platoon in Dad's Army, the real-life troops initially had to make do with a solitary armband for a uniform. Eventually they wore full battle dress and helmet as donned by the regular army.

WOMEN IN THE RANKS

In 1943, 'nominated women' were admitted to the Home Guard as cooks, clerks and drivers. In 1944, they became known as Home Guard Auxiliaries. They weren't issued with a uniform, but were given a brooch badge as a token of recognition.

SEASONED PROS

The age restriction was supposed to be between 17 and 65 and the only fitness stipulation was 'capability of free movement'. But the rules were not strictly imposed at first so many veterans joined up, including Alexander Taylor who had first seen action in the Sudan in 1884.

REWARDING HONOUR

A national Home Guard Day was celebrated annually on the anniversary of its formation. Winston Churchill wanted the soldiers to realise that the nation appreciated 'these devoted men'. Some 140 medals were presented to members of the Home Guard. Four were awarded posthumously.

RARE ACCOLADE

The Home Guard, in existence for four and a half years, was handed the honour of mounting guard at Buckingham Palace twice. Some regiments that have existed for hundreds of years have never had this privilege.