Launch of the Lancashire World War II Home Guard Records 1940-45

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28 January 2021
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A brand-new digital collection of 60,000 Lancashire World War II Home Guard Records 1940-45 has been launched by Ancestry, working in partnership with Lancashire Archives.

The collection is a regional representative of the national Home Guard, featuring 60,000 historic records and providing fascinating insight into what life was like on the Home Front during World War II. 

The newly digitised collection, which features more than 60,000 historic records, is listed by battalion, and people can find information about their relatives’ enlistment, transfers, promotions, resignations and on occasion, their death. Some Home Guard records have also been linked back to the 1939 Register, offering further detailed information including birth dates, religion, previous service and next of kin too.

Kristian Lafferty, Content Acquisition Manager at Ancestry, said of the launch: “We’re thrilled to be working with Lancashire Archives to make this unique collection of records available online for the first time. The records are an invaluable resource for those looking to research their family history in Lancashire. Nominal lists of volunteers combined with individual’s letters, orders, instructions, and other documents provide an interesting glimpse into the Lancashire Home Guard during World War II, and thus an important part of what life was also like on the Home Front too.’

What was the Home Guard?

Fondly called 'Dad's Army' since many of the local volunteers were above the age of conscription, the Home Guard was set up in May 1940 as Britain's 'last line of defence' against German invasion. Other volunteers included those too young or ineligible to serve. Despite the Home Guard starting off as ‘rag-tag’ militia, with scarce and often make-do uniforms and weaponry, it evolved into a well-equipped and well-trained army of 1.7 million men and some women, with roles including bomb disposal and manning anti-aircraft and coastal artillery.

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Women in the Home Guard

Women were part of the Lancashire Home Guard: Despite its moniker, the collection includes the nominal roll of women from the 41st County of Lancaster (Prestwich) Battalion. Miss Margery Cooper, Miss Margaret Coyle and Miss Lily Cheetham were some of the women who were in the Battalion.

Oldest and youngest recruits

Norman Bromley was one of the youngest people in the Lancashire Home Guard records to enlist. By cross matching his details with the 1939 Register, we can see he was only 14 at the time (with the official minimum age for enlistment being 16). A Sergeant T Mooney was amongst the oldest to volunteer at aged 70.

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