This is a brief guide to researching British army and government records for a person who served in the Home Guard, also known as the Local Defence Volunteers. Most personal service histories are not available at The National Archives, but you will find operational records such as those relating to regimental histories and awards of medals.
Durham Home Guard service papers are available online (see below). For service histories of members of the Home Guard other than Durham you can apply using the forms on GOV.UK. These papers are held by the Ministry of Defence, not The National Archives.
What do I need to know before I start?
The Home Guard was originally formed as the Local Defence Volunteers in 1940 and was responsible for guarding coastal areas and factories from invasion. It was disbanded in 1945.
Most Home Guard records are still with the Ministry of Defence.
Durham Home Guard enrolment forms (1939–1945)
Search and download enrolment forms (£) of Durham Home Guard personnel from Discovery, our catalogue. These records (WO 409) cover the county of Durham only.
For papers relating to the rest of the Home Guard you can apply using the forms on GOV.UK.
Recommendations for military honours and awards (1935–1990)
Search our catalogue for recommendations for awards (£) such as the Victoria Cross and the Military Medal. This collection (WO 373) includes awards to some Home Guard personnel.
Home Office Committee on Civil Defence recommendations for gallantry awards (1940-1949)
Search Ancestry.co.uk (£) by name for papers submitted to the committee recommending Home Guard personnel for the George Cross, George Medal or Empire Gallantry Award.
Cabinet Papers (1915–1981)
Search the Cabinet Papers (digitised records from the CAB department) (£) to find some details of Home Guard policy.
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
To access records held by The National Archives you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£). To access records held in other archives please contact the archives directly.
Home Forces papers and regimental histories (1914–1956)
Browse the records of the Home Forces in WO 199 for regimental histories, nominal rolls of Home Guard auxiliary units and other papers. The unit war diary for the Durham Second Battalion is in WO 199/3324.
Treasury Ceremonial Branch Civil Defence Awards Files (1938-1950)
Browse the records in T 336, most of the information in these files was published in the London Gazette but some files contain unpublished accounts of actions.
Recommendations for the award of the British Empire Medal (1944)
Consult AIR 2/9040 to find recommendations for the award of the British Empire Medal to some members of the Home Guard on stand-down.
Other records (20th century)
Search our catalogue using keywords such as ‘Home Guard’. Your results will include records held by the National Archives and by 2,500 other archives across the UK.
Records in other archives and organisations
Home Guard personnel records and enrolment forms (1940–1945)
Contact the Ministry of Defence for Home Guard personnel records and enrolment forms (service histories). Details can be found on GOV.UK.
These records may be supplied to next of kin and other members of the public after the Home Guard member’s death.
Durham Light Infantry records (1940s and 1950s)
Search the online catalogue of Durham County Record Office to find records of the Durham Light Infantry. These include regulations, orders and instructions for the Durham Home Guard.
Various local records
The National Archives’ catalogue contains collections and contact details of local archives around the UK and beyond. To locate these records, search our catalogue with keywords and refine your results to ‘Other archives’ using the filters.