|On the 14th May 1940, Anthony Eden in his first speech as Secretary of
State for War asked for volunteers for the Local Defence Volunteers. In
his radio broadcast he said "We want large numbers of such men in
Great Britain who are British subjects, between the ages of seventeen
and sixty-five, to come forward now and offer their services in order to
make assurance [that any invasion would fail] doubly sure. The name of
the new force which is now to be raised will be the Local Defence
Volunteers. This name describes its duties in three words. You will not
be paid, but you will receive uniforms and will be armed. In order to
volunteer, what you have to do is give your name at your local police
station, and then, when we want you, we will let you know..."
Within 24 hours, over 250,000 men had tried to enrol into the LDV and by
the end of the month the number had risen to 750,000, greatly exceeding
the authorities expectation of 150,000 volunteers. By the end of June
1940, there were nearly 1.5 million volunteers and the number never fell
below a million for the rest of the organisation's existence although
the peak was 1.8 million in March 1943.
On 17th May 1940, the Defence (Local Defence Volunteers) Regulations 1940 was passed, which officially brought the LDV into existence. Ten days later the British Expeditionary Force had been pushed back and surrounded at Dunkirk. Invasion seemed imminent.
|Pictured above is a letter from the Officer Commanding Number 1 Battalion of the West Sussex Home Guard sent to my father, Ernest Barnes and is dated the 4th March 1941, just one day before his fourteenth birthday. My father had been evacuated two days before war was declared on the 3rd September 1939, initially to Littlehampton and then to West Wittering. The property discovered by my father was concealed within a hollow tree trunk.|
|Home Guard Badge
Made by Fattorini & Son, Birmingham
|Home Guard Enamelled Badge|
|There were no official "Home Guard" badges to be worn when out of uniform, but a number of companies made unofficial badges. I have seen three type so far, a rectangular badge in blue enamel with 'Home Guard' and the Kings crown; an oval blue enamel badge with "HG" and the Kings crown and a plain oval badge also marked "HG" with the Kings crown. Both badges pictured here are from my own collection.|