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The Real Dad’s Army

Norman Longmate
Was the TV programme like real life; were events so chaotic and comedic? Absolutely and this short book explains the reasons why, putting to bed some tall stories, but confirming many others!

The Author was a member of the 3rd Sussex Battalion, Home Guard and has brought us a potted history of why the Local Defence Volunteers(LDV); soon to become the Home Guard, came into existence and how a rag tag group of men who for many reasons could not serve in the armed forces came together to become a standard part of British life during WW2.

The author uses his own experience but has also done his research and come up with tales about the Home Guard and what it got up to mainly in South East England. He explains how these very keen volunteers were prepared to stand up to an invading German Army should it be necessary. It must be borne in mind that the Germans had just conquered mainland Europe, reasonably easily, and that the Land Defence Volunteers, had virtually no equipment, no uniforms, no weapons and no ammunition. This did not stop them coming forward in their thousands to volunteer and they were prepared to defend Britain with their pitchforks and brush handles with knives taped on!

The army being what it is, these ad hoc units were soon collected into Platoons, Companies, Battalions and attached to local Regiments, taking their cap badge and using their title in the unit name. Units were formed in towns and villages and also in workshops and companies, including government civil servant units.

Longmate gives us the humorous tales, many of which we have heard about, but he also gives us the serious side where these men, who for various reasons could not join the army, were prepared to put themselves up against the most professional army in the world at that time.

This is a delightful book which is not only of military history interest but also social history of Britain during WW2 as well. It is not a large book, just 90 pps but is well illustrated with photographs, illustrations from Home Guard training manuals and paintings of individual Home Guard soldiers. While we may laugh at the Home Guard and the antics of the Walmington-on-Sea Platoon, there was a deadly serious business behind it all and this book reminds us of that.

4 Mr MRHs for a delightful piece of British WW2 social history.
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