In Search of the Real Dad s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944

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Pen and Sword, Feb 29, 2012 - History - 256 pages
What was the Home Guard? Who were the men and women who served in it? And what can be said of their real role and significance once the popular myths have been stripped away? Despite the fame of the Home Guard of Dad s Army the true story of this wartime organization tends to be neglected. The myths obscure the reality. Stephen Cullen s aim in this thoroughgoing new study is to cut through the misunderstandings in order to reassess the Home Guard and its contribution to Britain s war effort and to deepen our understanding of the men and women who were members of it. He sets the Home Guard in the long historical context of domestic defense planning, then focuses on the preparations made before the outbreak of the Second World War. In detail he traces the changing role of the Home Guard during its wartime existence as it adapted to meet the multitude of challenges it faced from civil defense and intelligence gathering to training for guerrilla warfare. Using vivid eyewitness testimony and oral history, he takes a grassroots look at the men - and women from all ages and social backgrounds who made up this national defense force. The equipment, uniforms, weapons and vehicles they used and the field defenses they manned are described as their role developed over the course of the war. He also examines the evolution of popular views of the Home Guard from wartime days to the present the notion of the People s Army, the thinking of early Home Guard commentators like George Orwell, and the writings of more recent historians who have sought to explain an organization that retains such an extraordinary hold on the popular imagination.
 

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Contents

1 Defending these Shores
3
Part II The Home Guard and the Defence of the UK 194044
19
2 Time of Crisis May 1940June 1941
21
3 The Long Haul June 1941December 1944
43
Part III Old Men Young Men and Women the People in Arms
67
4 Playing Fields and Factory Yards
69
5 Celtic Defenders
86
6 Home Guard Lives
108
7 Rifles to Rockets
129
8 Cloth Caps and Steel Helmets
153
Part V Understanding and Remembering the Home Guard
167
9 It All Happened Before
169
10 Gone but not Forgotten
191
Notes
209
Sources
233
Index
241

Part IV Equipping the Home Guard
127

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About the author (2012)

After studying at the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford, Dr Stephen M. Cullen taught economics, history and politics at independent schools. He has published many papers, articles and reports on twentieth-century history, in particular on the world wars, fascism and the Home Guard. His books include The Last Capitalist: A Dream of a New Utopia, Children in Society: A Libertarian Critique, Cohort of the Damned: Armed Collaboration in Wartime France The Milice Franšaise and Home Guard Socialism: A Vision of a People s Army.

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