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Eden’s home guard speech

Discussion in 'The Home Front' started by Cabel1960, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

    Nov 4, 2006
    Likes Received:
    via War44
    May 14th 1940, 9.00pm
    ‘Since the war began the Government has received countless inquiries from all over the kingdom from men of all ages who are, for one reason or another, not at present engaged in military service, and who wish to do something for the defence of their country. Well, now is your opportunity. We want large numbers of such men in Great Britain, who are British subjects, between the ages of 17 and 65 to come forward now and offer their services. The name of the new Force which is now to be raised will be ‘The Local Defence Volunteers.’ This name describes its duties in three words. This is a part-time job, so that there will be no need for any volunteer to abandon his present occupation. When on duty you will form part of the armed forces. You will not be paid, but you will receive a uniform and will be armed.’


    Thus, in that succinct broadcast a legend, a true legend, was born. The men who signed up for the LDV (later of course to be renamed the Home Guard), were brave individuals; had the British Isles been invaded the men of the Home Guard would have had a most difficult and dangerous time. The very act of volunteering was in itself a sign of true bravery.

    In the speech he warned of the threat of invasion by means of German parachute regiments and how this awful scenario would need an established fighting force already in place to see off these unwanted visitors. He urged all male civilians aged 17-65 who had (for whatever reason) not been drafted into the services, to put themselves forward for the sake of their country and help to form a new fighting force called ‘The Local Defence Volunteers’ or LDV for short, or (as some people later joked), ‘Look, Duck and Vanish’! Eden had made clear in his broadcast that the passing of a medical examination wouldn’t be necessary and that providing you were male, capable of free movement and of the right age, all one needed to do was enrol at their local police station.

    It’s true to say that if Eden was ever in any doubt about the impetus his broadcast had had on the general public, his fears were soon to be allayed. For, by the end of the following day, some 250,000 men had volunteered, with these volunteers coming from all walks of life including mining, factory working, public transport and farming to note but a few. By the end of the month a total of 750,000 men had come forward. Some problems did exist initially with many police stations soon running out of the enrolment forms. However, despite this small inconvenience it was good to see that Britain shared in the government’s view that it had to guard itself in some manner and ‘better be safe than sorry’!

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