The Home Guard: Real Dad's Army celebrates 75th anniversary

The Home Guard in their heyday. Credit: Reuters

The Home Guard, or Dad's Army as it is better known, celebrates its 75th anniversary today.

While it was often the source of jokes it also had its admirers, Winston Churchill said the country needed to realise: "all it owes to these devoted men".

ITV News reporter Faye Barker on a much-maligned British institution:

Clifford Gower spent two years as a Home Guard before being called up to the frontline.

We went out in twos and threes and patrolled those areas. Really just watching for any paratroopers that may come with the bombers that were going over to bomb London. Churchill had asked us to keep the enemy at bay and I think we were satisfied that was what we've got to do and if you'd only got a pitchfork or something like that then you'd have to use that.

Clifford Gower

Originally called the Local Defence Volunteers it was also Churchill who gave them the snappier title of Home Guard.

The Home Guard was set up in May 1940 as the 'last line of defence' against German invasion.

Members were usually men who were either too young or too old to be conscripted and those unfit or ineligible for front line military service.

On 14th May 1940, Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden called for men between the ages of 17 and 65 to enrol in a new force, the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV).

Just six weeks later nearly 1.5 million men had enrolled, the force peaked at around 1.7 million men.