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The uniform and kit of the
Home Guard in World War Two

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While I was growing up in the 1940s I must have seen quite a number of men from the Home Guard. I didn't realise it at the time though because - to a small child - they just looked like regular soldiers. This was because their uniform was so similar.

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The Home Guard uniform

Home Guard uniform and kit, right side Home Guard uniform and kit, front view Home Guard uniform and kit, left side

Home Guard uniform from three views showing the kit that the home guardsman had to carry

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The Home Guard uniform

At first the only 'uniform' for the want of a better word was an armband marked first with LDV for Local Defence Volunteer and then Home Guard for the newly named platoons. As stocks were produced, priorities went to the platoons around the coast as they were the first line of defence. Eventually all Home Guards were given full uniform.

Home Guard hat with regimental badge

Home Guard cap with regimental badge

The Home Guard uniform was modelled on that of regular soldiers. The above photos show a genuine uniform (not a re-enactment version) at a re-enactment event. The fabric of the trousers, jacket and cap was a hard-wearing khaki coloured serge. The trousers were tucked inside leather gaiters for protection; there was a leather belt and pockets and ties for various purposes. The badge in the cap was that of the regiment and a Home Guard badge was sewn onto the right sleeve.

badge of the Womens Home Guard Auxiliaries

Badge of the Women's Home Guard Auxiliaries

There was also an overcoat, known in those days as a 'great coat'. It could often be seen on men after the war, long after the Home Guard had been disbanded because Churchill decreed that Home Guardsman could be keep their uniforms. These coats were heavy because they were so thick and made of relatively solid wool. Light-weight padded coats of man-made fabrics were decades into the future.

Some platoons were supported in an administrative capacity by women from what was known as the Women's Home Guard Auxiliaries. However these women did not wear a uniform, although they did have a circular Bakelite brooch badge about 2" in diameter with HG in the centre.

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The Home Guard kit

The full kit of a Home Guardsman was considerable, as can be seen from the pictures, and it was very heavy.

Gun as used by Home Guards

Gun as used by Home Guards

Bayonet as used by Home Guards

Bayonet as used by Home Guards

The rifle was carried in the hand and a bayonet was hung from the belt.

There were two small bags at the front, attached to shoulder straps; they were for ammunition.

Two larger bags were carried over each shoulder. One was for food. A Home Guardsman was required to bring his own food for the first 24 hours when away on manoeuvres and this was invariably sandwiches with perhaps an apple when in season.

Enamel water bottle in cloth case as used by Home Guards

Enamel water bottle in cloth case as used by Home Guards

A water bottle hung from the belt on the man's right. It was made of enamel in a thick fabric case which, at the time of filling was soaked in water to keep the contents cool by evaporation.

The other bag was for a gas mask which it was compulsory to carry.

Also slung over a shoulder was a hard hat to protect against fallout. It was covered in net so that twigs and leaves could be poked through for camouflage.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

4th Rumney Company, Cardiff Regiment, South Wales Home Guard

Original Home Guard photo showing the Home Guard uniform - 4th Rumney Company, Cardiff Regiment, South Wales Home Guard, summer 1943. Photo courtesy of Malcolm Head.

Page based on discussions with Home Guard enthusiasts at re-enactment events
and descendants of Home Guardsmen.