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Britons at War

Teaching Resource for KS2 History, ICT and English, featuring archive photographs and film of World War II

The Blitz: Formation of the Home Guard, Thornton

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Photographs © National Museum of Photography, Film & Television 2006
Film footage © Yorkshire Film Archive


Teacher Information

After the Allied Forces were driven back across the Channel from Dunkirk in France in May 1940, it seemed very likely that the Germans would soon invade Britain. Most men were serving in the Forces, and so the Government wanted to recruit an extra part-time army to resist possible landings by German parachute troops. The Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) were formed in May 1940. The name was soon changed to the Home Guard. Recruits for the Home Guard were men between the ages of 17 and 65, who were either too young or too old for the mainstream Forces, or who were in reserved occupations ( jobs vital to the War effort) In their spare time the Home Guard trained for combat or guarded important sites such as railways, bridges or factories. The Home Guard has sometimes been made fun of in TV programmes like Dad's Army, but this colour film made by a member of Thornton Home Guard in Bradford shows the reality of their hard work and commitment. By July 1940 there were 1.5 million men in the Home Guard, and they were only finally disbanded in December 1945.

Discussion Points

Watch the scene of Home Guard members doing drill in 1940 before they got the right equipment. What are they wearing ? What are they carrying ?
What do the initials on their arm bands stand for ?
Later in the War, they are at a firing range with proper rifles and uniforms .Why are some of the soldiers near the targets moving white circles up and down on long sticks ?
Two members of the Home Guard are using a flame thrower. How do they protect themselves ? Do you think this is enough protection ?

Activity Ideas

Write a poem or a short newspaper article saying good things about the work being done by the Home Guard during the War.