Civil Defence in WWII

Local Defence Volunteers

In May 1940, Germany invaded France. The Government were then concerned that Britain too might be invaded by the enemy. Because of this, the Government set up the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), who later became known as the Home Guard. Local Defence Volunteers were male civilians aged between 17 and 65 who had not been conscripted.

The Home Guard were intended to be the last line of defence if there was an enemy invasion. Members attended regular drills, where they practised creating defence lines and clearing up debris after an attack. One of their other main duties involved patrolling areas that were important to the war effort such as railways and factories in order to protect them.


Despite their good intentions, the LDV were not always viewed well by local people, and their duties meant that they were sometimes seen as getting in the way. This letter sent to LDV units shows the complaints that members of the public had made. 

Fortunately, Britain was not invaded and so the Home Guard were never truly tested. However, the commitment of LDV volunteers should not be overlooked. Being a member of the Home Guard made great demands of volunteers time, as illustrated in the extract from an interview with Tom Downs who was a member of the LDV during World War Two.


Discussion Points

  • Why do you think the Home Guard wasn't viewed with the same respect as other war-time roles?


  • What is the main problem with trying to guess how capable the Home Guard were?


    Activity Ideas

    Watch the You Tube clips from the popular sitcom 'Dad's Army', available at the bottom of this page. This sitcom is about volunteers in the Home Guard during World War Two.


    What do you think about the way the Home Guard are shown in the clips?

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