In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944


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This is a fact that many will find similarly surprising and is related to the representations through which we accrue our knowledge of the Home Guard. In this episode three female recruits join the Walmington-on-Sea platoon, but only serve to act as a distraction for the men.

A Forgotten Contribution: Women and the Home Guard

Mainwaring attempts an affair with the most patriotic of the trio, Mrs. The only portrayal of women in the Home Guard in the most significant post-war cultural representation of the force, then, sees them as irrelevant sexualised distractions.


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This is to trivialise not only the significant contribution that many women made to local Home Guard units, especially during those tense months of when invasion seemed most likely and in some areas male recruits were lacking, but also to overlook the struggle of a number of female campaigners calling for equal rights in civil defence.

Most prominent of these campaigners was the Labour M. Edith Summerskill. Her pre-war activities saw her at the forefront of several feminist causes, such as abortion reform, equal pay and equal rights for women in work and marriage. She constantly interrogated the War Office on why women had been banned from participation in the Home Guard in and heckled Sir.

A Forgotten Contribution: Women and the Home Guard – Bluestocking Oxford

Edward Grigg, Secretary of State for war, during his speeches in Parliament. Despite the ban many local units still utilised the services of women and, aware that their prohibition was having little affect, the government was forced to back down in Summerskill continued to fight for equality on this slight to female members but the war ended before the issue was resolved to her satisfaction.

Nonetheless, it is because of Summerskill and other campaigners, such as Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, that women were recognised at all.

Summerskill and Gwynne-Vaughan successfully managed to secure a letter of thanks from King George VI that was similar to the one male members received on standing down in The figure of Captain Mainwaring reminds us tellingly of a rung of interwar middle-class life hemmed in by other classes and their behaviour, yet propelled by propriety and duty.

Yet Wilson remains the black sheep of the family and is revealed in the last ever episode to have been a former officer in the Great War. It was a world away from the experience and attitude of the Victorian Corporal Jones.

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Class however bites back at Mainwaring, since he clings to his loveless and, in every other way, unsatisfactory marriage for the sake of decency and propriety. The platoon acquires the much-derided Ross Rifles: a dubious present from the Canadian government.


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Likewise, young Private Pike is entrusted with a Thompson Sub-Machine gun, an unwitting gift from an American mobster whose confiscated weapons arrived in Britain as an often forgotten provision of the lend lease policy. And what of Private Pike, the man too young to be called up, who eventually cannot go because of his rare blood group. What was the Home Guard?

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The enduring vision of Dad’s Army

Who were the men and women who served in it? And what can be said of their real role and significance once the popular myths have been stripped away? Despite the fame of the Home Guard - of Dad's Army - the true story of this wartime organization tends to be neglected. The myths obscure the reality.

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Stephen Cullen's aim in this thoroughgoing new study is to cut through the misunderstandings in order to reassess the Home Guard and its contribution to Britain's war effort - and to deepen our understanding of the men and women who were members of it. He sets the Home Guard in the long historical context of domestic defence planning, then focuses on the preparations made before the outbreak of the Second World War.


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In detail he traces the changing role of the Home Guard during its wartime existence as it adapted to meet the multitude of challenges it faced - from civil defence and intelligence gathering to training for guerrilla warfare. Using vivid eyewitness testimony and oral history, he takes a grassroots look at the men - and women - from all ages and social backgrounds who made up this national defence force. The equipment, uniforms, weapons and vehicles they used and the field defences they manned are described as their role developed over the course of the war.

The Real Dads Army pt2

He also examines the evolution of popular views of the Home Guard from wartime days to the present - the notion of the People's Army, the thinking of early Home Guard commentators like George Orwell, and the writings of more recent historians who have sought to explain an organization that retains such an extraordinary hold on the popular imagination. Read more Read less. Review "Read it for: a thorough history of the context and realities of the Home Guard in World War 2.

In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944 In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944
In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944 In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944
In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944 In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944
In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944 In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944
In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944 In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944
In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944 In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944

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