Formation of the Home Guard, Thornton Bradford

Archive: Yorkshire Film Archive
ID No.: 1214
Title: Formation of the Home Guard, Thornton Bradford
Date: 1939-1945
Film-maker: Mr Grier/ Thornton Coy Film Unit
Colour: Colour
Sound: Silent (commentary added 2006)
Duration of complete item: 64min.
Themes: Civil Defence - Home Guard & ATS


An amateur film documenting the setting up and training of members of the Thornton Home Guard in Bradford during Second World War. The film uses intertitles in between moving image footage to explain how they came into existence and the activities they took part in to become a fully trained Home Guard Unit.


The film opens in a living room where a middle-aged couple are listening to the radio. The government’s foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, is shown making a speech and the first intertitle explains that Britain needs men to join the newly formed Local Defence Volunteers (LDV). After the broadcast the man leaves his house for the police station, a signing up post for the LDV.

The next intertitle informs us that he, and other newly recruited members are going to do training exercises. The intertitle ‘Lack of equipment does not dampen our enthusiasm’ precedes scenes of middle-aged men in civilian clothes carrying wooden rifles and being instructed in different military drills. A further intertitle reads ‘Patrols are sent out & Observation Posts manned’. In the open countryside members of the LDV. march up and down with their wooden rifles scanning the area for enemy invasion.

As the film moves on, the men are given real rifles and are issued with proper uniforms. The next intertitle informs us that the LDV. are now to be known as the Home Guard. In full uniform a group of them set off to the countryside for exercise drills. At their training camp they are given fire arms practice with rifles, machine guns and flame throwers. They also learn how to defuse bombs; lay down signal wires and camouflage themselves against the enemy.

The Unit are shown taking part in a 'Salute the Solider' week where they march in a parade. The intertitle ‘Ceremonial Parade of 3rd W.R.H.G. Manningham Park’ precedes another procession through the Park. The film then closes with various members of the Thornton Home Guard Company receiving awards for their efforts.


Following a radio broadcast by Anthony Eden in May 1940, the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) was established. Eden called for male civilians ‘of all ages who wish to do something for the defence of their country' to register their names to join the LDV.

The newly formed organisation was initially ill-equipped, lacking proper uniforms, guns or ammunition. In this film from Bradford, early scenes show the men marching in civilian clothing, wearing arm bands to signify their membership of the LDV and carrying wooden replica guns. The uniforms and munitions eventually began to arrive and the name was changed to the Home Guard. Once fully established and equipped, units around the country embarked on training and exercises to prepare for any possible invasion or attack on home ground.

This film clearly documents the set-up and progression of the LDV and its transition to the Home Guard, illustrating their training and operations.

In 2006 a voice-over commentary was added by a former member, describing in more detail what life was like in the Home Guard.

Formation of the Home Guard, Thornton Bradford (1939-1945)

Formation of the Home Guard, Thornton Bradford (1939-1945)

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