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Ready for the Enemy

German invasion was a continuous threat, at least in the early years of the war. Citizens were expected to be ever-vigilant, while Home Guard volunteers prepared themselves for the worst.

Spies and fifth columnists were a real concern (even if they were far rarer than some feared), hence the relentless - and often alarming - government warnings on the dangers of 'Careless Talk'. Those not serving overseas were encouraged to do their bit as volunteers: as air-raid wardens, ambulance workers, auxiliary firemen or in the Home Guard, which happily enlisted those deemed too old or unfit for active service - hence 'Dad's Army'.

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Home Front and Home Guard - Wartime Woking
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Home Front and Home Guard - Wartime Woking

Amateur film193810 minsSilent Location: Woking

Woking gears up for war in this remarkable film about the Home Guard and its contribution to the town.

Sea Fort
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Sea Fort

War19407 mins

Surrounded by water and manned to defend the coastline, sea forts were remote outposts of Britain’s home front.

Ack-ack
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Ack-ack

Government sponsored film19419 mins

‘ACK ACK’ is a profile of the soldiers who manned anti-aircraft positions on the home front during the Second World War.

Citizen's Army
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Citizen's Army

Documentary194110 mins Location: London

Ordinary men from all trades and professions lead double lives to hone their soldiering skills in Britain during the Second World War.

Civilians in Uniform
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Civilians in Uniform

Amateur film194621 mins Location: Leatherhead

Leatherhead applauds and thanks its Civil Defence Service volunteers for their sterling efforts, in this fascinating film made during the last months of the Second World War.

Clandon Home Guard - drills and stand down
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Clandon Home Guard - drills and stand down

Amateur film194212 minsSilent Location: Clandon Park

Dad's Army, Clandon-style, are at it again in this fascinating film about life in Surrey's Home Guard.

Royal Observer Corps
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Royal Observer Corps

Government sponsored film19417 mins Location: Welwyn

Watching over the skies, a volunteer force helps identify enemy aircraft for RAF fighters to intercept over Britain’s home front.

Banstead's Volunteer Services Celebrate Armistice Day and Other Events
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Banstead's Volunteer Services Celebrate Armistice Day and Other Events

Amateur film194119 minsSilent Location: Banstead

Banstead's civil defenders are out in force in this compilation of events from the town's calendar - featuring a Drum Service, a cricket match and Armistice day processions.

They Fight by Night
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They Fight by Night

Government sponsored film194310 mins

An account of the many ways people contributed to the war effort on the home front, focusing on the work that went on through the night.

Fighting Allies
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Fighting Allies

Government sponsored film19419 mins

Britain’s Czech allies; working, developing new skills and training for the frontline.

Home Guard and home-movies in Swanmore
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Home Guard and home-movies in Swanmore

Amateur film193517 minsSilent Location: Swanmore

Conflict seems far away in this film featuring the Green family of Swanmore - but amid the jollity there's a sequence showing the Home Guard training with guns and incendiaries.

Civil Defence parades in pre-war Croydon
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Civil Defence parades in pre-war Croydon

Amateur film193812 minsSilent Location: Croydon

Peacetime frivolity contrasts sharply with a sense of the Gathering Storm in this film from Croydon made shortly before the outbreak of hostilities.

Basingstoke Home Guard
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Basingstoke Home Guard

19429 minsSilent Location: Basingstoke

Soldiers amass on the outskirts of Basingstoke... we're doomed! But don't panic! It's just Dad's Army doing a bit of training.

Bomb damage and Home Guard in Hythe
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Bomb damage and Home Guard in Hythe

Amateur film194014 minsSilent Location: Hythe

After a visit from the Luftwaffe, Hythe's factories and houses inspect the terrible damage done to their town in a film, which also shows the local Home Guard in fighting form.

Home Guard Parade (Cardiff) and Manoeuvres
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Home Guard Parade (Cardiff) and Manoeuvres

Home movie19439 minsSilent Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd

Cardiff City Hall’s Clock Tower offers the film-maker a bird’s eye view of the Home Guard/Royal Welch Fusiliers parade below. Home Guard manoeuvres are shot on the ground.

Wartime savings rally, Winchester and Home Guard
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Wartime savings rally, Winchester and Home Guard

Amateur film194012 minsSilent Location: Winchester

Wartime Winchester is the star of this film, which includes military marches, Home Guard exercises and an outdoor boxing match staged by the American Army.

West Sussex Home Guard
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West Sussex Home Guard

Instructional film/TV programme194118 minsSilent Location: West Sussex

Dastardly Nazi fifth-columnists get short shrift in this film showing the Home Guard defence tactics - which include pulling down a German paratrooper's trousers!

A Home Guard parade and an inspection by the Duke of Kent
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A Home Guard parade and an inspection by the Duke of Kent

Amateur film193912 minsSilent Location: Eastleigh

The Duke of Kent visits the Southern Railway's Eastleigh Works in this Home Front film which also shows the local Home Guard on the march and a tank that carries its own bridge.

Stand Down Parade of the Home Guard
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Stand Down Parade of the Home Guard

Non-Fiction194415 minsSilent Location: Halifax

Marching in typical determined fashion in the pouring rain, through the empty streets of Bradford, these men of the Home Guard exude steeliness, pride and, possibly, relief.

Training drills and parades in Woking
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Training drills and parades in Woking

Amateur film194319 minsSilent Location: Woking

Woking's Home Guard strut their stuff in this sensational mix of training film and social record - with weapons, explosions, rope bridges and lots of climbing over barbed wire.

West Sussex Home Guard 1
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West Sussex Home Guard 1

Instructional film/TV programme19414 minsSilent Location: West Sussex

There's a wrong way and a right way to deal with Nazi spies and fifth-columnists - as you'll see in this this hilarious colour film starring the Home Guard and various Nazi rotters.

Homeguard 2
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Homeguard 2

Training film/TV programme194215 minsSilent Location: Beverley

Doubtless civilians would have been re-assured in 1942 had they seen this training film for the Home Guard, learning fieldcraft, positioning and close quarters combat.

Beverley Commemorates the Anniversary of the Battle of Britain
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Beverley Commemorates the Anniversary of the Battle of Britain

Non-Fiction19438 minsSilent Location: Beverley

Four years into the war and by now marching in procession, as here, is second nature for the large numbers of civil defence personnel, and much more fascinating to watch as a result.

Homeguard 3
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Homeguard 3

Training film/TV programme194210 minsSilent Location: Beverley

A fascinating glimpse into the training of the Home Guard –learning how to hide from enemy invaders – showing that they were far from being the farcical shambles of Dad’s Army.

Chinese in Wartime Britain
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Chinese in Wartime Britain

Government sponsored film194410 mins Location: London

A documentary about the benefits and influences of Chinese immigration on Britain’s home front.

The Home Guard Stand-Down Parade on Plymouth Hoe
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The Home Guard Stand-Down Parade on Plymouth Hoe

Amateur film19444 minsSilent Location: Plymouth

The Home Guard 'Stand Down' on Plymouth Hoe

The National Fire Service in Woking and a Pump Relay competition in Guildford
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The National Fire Service in Woking and a Pump Relay competition in Guildford

Amateur film19427 minsSilent Location: Woking

Men of the NFS demonstrate their fire fighting equipment skills before an audience in this splendid colour film from 1942. And the best crews get the best prizes.

Road Blocks
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Road Blocks

Instructional film/TV programme194115 minsSilent Location: West Sussex

Should you ever need to set up a roadblock then watch this film as the West Sussex Home Guard reveal the right and the wrong way to stop the Hun in his tracks.

Kingsbury: ARP in Sandiacre
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Kingsbury: ARP in Sandiacre

Home movie19409 minsSilent Location: Sandiacre

From their sandbagged headquarters, the Sandiacre ARP and Red Cross await their call to action.

ARP: A Practical Demonstration of Nottingham Precautions
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ARP: A Practical Demonstration of Nottingham Precautions

Amateur film193810 minsSilent Location: Nottingham

As the nation slides into conflict, Nottingham prepares for a new type of warfare: the horrors of aerial bombardment and mustard gas attacks.

Control Room
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Control Room

Government sponsored film194223 mins Location: Bristol

A behind the scenes look at civil defence work during and after a Luftwaffe bombing raid on Bristol during the Second World War.

Simey: Historic Hereford
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Simey: Historic Hereford

Home movie194035 minsSilent Location: Hereford

From GIs dancing in High Town in 1942 and on into the New Elizabethan era: this is a true celebration of the city of Hereford from the austere 1940s right into the 'swinging' sixties.

Suffolk Territorials
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Suffolk Territorials

Government sponsored film19376 mins Location: Ipswich

A recruitment film for the Suffolk Territorials, featuring scenes of a Drumhead military service on Empire Day and training exercises; narrated by Colonel Coburn O.B.E.

World War Two Servicemen at Babraham Hall Estate and Girl Guides at Gog Magog Hills
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World War Two Servicemen at Babraham Hall Estate and Girl Guides at Gog Magog Hills

Amateur film19432 minsSilent Location: Babraham

A war-time parade of servicemen at Babraham Hall Estate, and Girl Guides at "The Gogs", captured by amateur filmmaker and Cambridge don Trevor Spittle.

Americans
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Americans

Home movie19422 minsSilent Location: Heath

John' and 'Johnny', two American GIs billeted in with the Iles family in Heathwood Road, Cardiff, enjoy a bit of fun with their new friends and neighbours.

Lefevre's Funeral and Montgomery's Visit
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Lefevre's Funeral and Montgomery's Visit

Amateur film19452 minsSilent Location: Canterbury

There's a huge turnout to see the victor of El Alamein in this short film which starts with, of all things, a funeral in Canterbury Cemetery!

Auxiliary Fire Service in Training - 1939
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Auxiliary Fire Service in Training - 1939

Amateur film19399 minsSilent Location: Gospel Oak

Adorable amateur film showing the work of the Auxiliary Fire Service in Finchley with a mixture of pride and self-deprecation.

Montgomery's Visit
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Montgomery's Visit

Amateur film19452 minsSilent Location: Canterbury

Canterbury goes wild when the hero of El Alamein's in town - watch Monty meet dignitaries, inspects soldiers and greets thousands of cheering well-wishers.

Canadian Army 1943
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Canadian Army 1943

Non-Fiction19439 minsSilent Location: Huddersfield

Canadian troops stationed in Yorkshire get a civic reception before a tour of the county, including a typical textile town and watching a typical wartime football match.

Auxiliary Fire Service Practice, Ilford (1942)
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Auxiliary Fire Service Practice, Ilford (1942)

Amateur film19426 minsSilent Location: Ilford

Short amateur film showing the men of the Auxiliary Fire Service in Ilford in training in Ilford during the Second World War.

High Explosive Bombs and their effects
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High Explosive Bombs and their effects

Amateur film19401 minsSilent Location: Aberaeron

Controlled explosions take place in a field, probably organised for civil defence training purposes, and are shot by Aberaeron pharmacist Evan John Thomas.

Man in the Street
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Man in the Street

Training film/TV programme194030 minsSilent Location: Wakefield

A wonderful, and often comic, peep into police training as the war gets underway; after having their chests measured, they learn how to control traffic and deal with dead bodies.

Fricker's Trained Alsatians
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Fricker's Trained Alsatians

Documentary194514 minsSilent Location: Pudsey

An intriguing look at the training of police dogs, climbing up ladders blindfolded and rescuing documents from wounded soldiers.

4th Battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment at Redcar Camp
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4th Battalion Duke of Wellington Regiment at Redcar Camp

Non-Fiction193813 minsSilent Location: Redcar

With war looming on the horizon, troops from the Duke still find time to relax and joke even when learning how to grapple with mortar launchers and lie flat firing anti-tank rifles.

Home Guard, Hounslow
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Home Guard, Hounslow

Amateur film194031 minsSilent Location: Hounslow

Detailed and absorbing look at the training of a battalion of the Home Guard in Middlesex captured by a local amateur film-maker.

Home Guard On Manoeuvres And Parade, Enfield
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Home Guard On Manoeuvres And Parade, Enfield

Amateur film194012 minsSilent Location: Enfield

Amateur footage of the home guard on patrol and at ease in the fields outside London, where anti-tank weapons are tested in front of suburban houses.

Total War in Britain
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Total War in Britain

Documentary194521 minsSilent

Britain's war - from Dunkirk to D-Day in 20 minutes

Home Guard (Melingriffith)
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Home Guard (Melingriffith)

Home movie194119 minsSilent Location: Whitchurch

Melingriffith Tinplate Works Home Guard is seen here parading on 23/2/1941, and training e.g. practising using grenades and bayonets, and standing down in December 1944.