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Homeguard - Was the Home Guard an effective fighting force? Main page

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When the British and French armies were defeated in France by the Germans in May 1940 the future looked very bad. Britain was the last big country in Europe still fighting Hitler and faced the real threat of an invasion from the Germans across the sea from France.

The British army had been badly weakened by the defeat in France so the government quickly set up a volunteer army to make Britain harder to invade. This was originally called the Local Defence Volunteers but was later known as the Home Guard. It was sometimes nicknamed 'Dad's army' because it was made up of volunteers who were too old to serve in the regular army.

Hundreds of thousands of men joined the Home Guard in the summer of 1940 and served through the war. The force had some problems to begin with because they did not have proper weapons or uniforms. Despite this they began training to resist an enemy invasion and soon became a familiar sight around the country performing a number of roles.

Although it was expected, the Germans did not try to invade, so the Home Guard never faced an invading force and the question remains about how they would have fought.

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