On a cold December day in 1944, pouring with rain, the men of the Home Guard, as they march one last time, look as if they are marching off to battle rather than to the local cinema – and wishing that they had trench coats, not greatcoats. Although few have braved the horrible conditions to witness the men formally stand down from their wartime duties, the Mayor of Bradford stands on his platform in salute as they proudly march by.
This is one of many films made by the Halifax Cine Club since their formation in 1938; this one under the direction of Charles Thomas. The formation of the Local Defence Volunteers was announced before the war, on May 14th; re-named the Home Guard in July 1940. The serious training in guerilla warfare had been initiated the month before, unofficially, by ex-Communist Party member Tom Wintringham, bringing to bear his experiences of the Spanish Civil War (CP members weren’t allowed to join the HG). At its peak the HG numbered 1,793,000, although it excluded women, who were restricted to auxiliary services – despite the efforts of Edith Summerskill. Orwell, among others, criticised it as being undemocratic.
Yorkshire Film Archive collects, preserves, and shows film made in, or about Yorkshire. Our collections are non-fiction, dating from the 1890s to the present day, and providing a rich and visually compelling record of all aspects of lives, cultures, landscape, industries, major events and everyday activities, many of which are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.