The Dad’s Army guide to defending Britain

Thanks to the famous BBC series, which has inspired a new comedy film, the image of 'Dad's Army' as a group of bumbling misfits has been burned into the British consciousness. Yet, in reality, the Home Guard was a tough, dynamic fighting force. Leo McKinstry reveals five ways in which it readied itself to repel a Nazi invasion

Members of the Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) dressed in their civilian clothes march along a platform passing a steam locomotive on 1 July 1940 in London. (Photo by Harry Todd/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Recruit young, athletic men

Far from being a laughable, marginalised organisation, the Home Guard actually reflected the public mood of resolute defiance against Nazi Germany.

On 14 May 1940, when the war secretary Anthony Eden broadcast his call for men to join the new force, initially known as the Local Defence Volunteers, the response was overwhelming. Within seven days, 250,000 men had registered. By the end of July, the total had climbed to 1,456,000.

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