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'.
Amateur film193810 minsSilent Location: Woking
Woking gears up for war in this remarkable film about the Home Guard and its contribution to the town.
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.
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.
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.
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 EventsBanstead'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 KentA 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 BritainBeverley 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.
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.
Government sponsored film194410 mins Location: London
A documentary about the benefits and influences of Chinese immigration on Britain’s home front.
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 GuildfordThe 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.
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.
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 PrecautionsARP: 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.
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.
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.
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 HillsWorld 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Camp4th 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.
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.
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.
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.