WO 199 - War Office, Military Headquarters Papers: Home Guard papers and histories.

This series contains files on policy, planning, and administration from the various headquarters of British Home Command during the Second World War. These comprise General Headquarters and Anti-Aircraft, Eastern, Northern, Scottish, South Eastern, Southern, Western and Guernsey Commands, Areas, Sub-Areas, Districts, Sub-Districts, Garrisons and Sectors. These include a wide range of material relating to the Home Guard.

The Home Guard was a volunteer branch of the British Army, which was formed in May 1940 as a secondary defence force for the U.K. in the event of enemy invasion. Initially referred to as "Local Defence Volunteers", it was staffed by those otherwise ineligible for military service – either due to age or enrolment in the so-called Reserved Occupations. Recruits were trained to slow down and disrupt any invading forces by various direct and indirect means, including weapons handling, intelligence reporting, and basic sabotage. Units were established across the U.K., with a particular emphasis on coastal areas, where recruits could also be expected to man anti-aircraft equipment.

A sample of files from across these regions has been selected for inclusion in this resource, each relating to a particular local unit of the Home Guard, including operational instructions and administrative records, wartime diaries of Home Guard activities, and official histories of units and battalions written by their commanders at the commission of the War Office following the order to "stand-down" in November 1944. These records provide a detailed and varied account of the training, welfare, and social lives of Home Guard recruits throughout the war, as well as a valuable insight into the lives of those men who remained in the U.K. during the conflict.

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