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Digitised Home Guard records reveal unexpected find
21 August 2012
A project to digitise Second World War Home Guard records, undertaken by The National Archives, has revealed that many Home Guard volunteers were too young to enlist in military service, rather than too old as previously thought.
This discovery comes as The National Archives releases online for the first time a selection of over 40,000 digitised Second World War Home Guard personnel records, dating from 1940 to 1945.
More 'Lad's Army' than 'Dad's Army'
The defence volunteers organisation the Home Guard was commonly thought to have comprised mostly of men who were too old to serve in military service, yet this project has revealed that 50% of the records selected were of men under the age of 27, with 28% of the men aged 18 or younger in 1940, the year the Home Guard was formed.
William Spencer, Principal Military Records Specialist at The National Archives, said: 'Perception of the Home Guard may have been distorted over the years, perhaps influenced by the popular TV comedy 'Dad's Army', but now for the first time we have access to primary source material and a more realistic demographic analysis of the Home Guard has been revealed'.
Searching the records
The Home Guard record series (WO 409) contains the enrolment forms for armed service personnel, which were completed when men joined the Home Guard. These digital records typically contain information such as name, date and place of birth, address, date of enlistment, promotions, previous military service, and date on leaving service. The County of Durham was selected as a representative sample to digitise for this project.
The files have been transcribed to allow the records to be searchable by key word, making this initiative a valuable resource to historians. The transcription will allow users to find and locate key information from these documents much more easily.
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