STAFFS HOME GUARD WEBSITE - GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE HOME GUARD  

 SEARCHING FOR
INDIVIDUAL HOME GUARD MEMBERS

This is a page of  the GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE HOME GUARD section of www.staffshomeguard.co.uk.
Please go to Site Map for complete site contents.

 

Searching for information about individual members of the Home Guard is not easy. Officers are marginally less difficult than N.C.O.'s and Other Ranks but detailed information on the vast majority of Home Guards is either hidden away, or inaccessible or even wholly lost. Nevertheless there are some lines of investigation which it is worthwhile to pursue.

ON THIS PAGE are some guidelines about possible sources of information and how you might pursue them.
ON AN ASSOCIATED PAGE is a list of "Missing Members" whom visitors to this website are seeking.

 

1. FAMILY RECORDS AND MEMORIES
This is of course the obvious one and is possibly the motive for searching further in the first place. The individual Home Guard may still be with us but, regrettably, more often than not he (or she) will survive only in the memory of one's siblings, cousins, parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, older friends. Or in some old papers sitting long forgotten in a family member's loft - a group photograph,
a training certificate, a King George VI Certificate of Commendation, a diary. Perhaps even an item of uniform or equipment. So - think, ask and search!

 

2. OFFICIAL PERSONNEL RECORDS
The official personal records are held by the Ministry of Defence. These are accessible on application and are subject to a fee when the applicant is anyone other than the individual himself. It should be noted that only the baldest of facts will be accessible. Further details about how to apply are given below.

More detailed personal records and enrolment forms are closed for 75 years and are thus inaccessible. They are currently being held at TNT Archive Service at Swadlincote, Derbyshire, whose details are given below.

It is recommended that before parting with money and submitting a formal application you check with the department concerned about the likelihood of their being able to provide a useful service in your particular circumstances.

 

3.  A HOME GUARD UNIT'S OWN PUBLISHED HISTORY
You may be fortunate in that the unit - sometimes Battalion, sometimes Company, sometimes even Platoon - to which the individual Home Guard belonged published a history of its activities. A reasonable number of units did this. You may be even luckier and find that he/she is mentioned within it.

There seems to be nowhere any comprehensive list of all these unit histories (although all those for Staffordshire are mentioned within this website). The webmaster however has a note of several and is happy to respond to specific queries. (Please use Feedback).

Copies of these invaluable publications may be held in reference libraries appropriate to the unit's location. The Imperial War Museum holds copies of some within their archive. In the National Archives collection there are copies held within WO 199 (see Appendix 5 - Records of the Militia & Volunteer Forces 1757-1945 Readers Guide No. 3). While there may be a record online of the document, you will almost certainly need a personal visit to examine it. The British Library is another source of these publications.

 

4.  HOME GUARD LISTS
Mention of an individual's name may be made in one of the Home Guard Lists - but only if he was an officer. The National Archives hold copies of these lists which were prepared periodically. The Imperial War Museum may have them too.

One of them, recording serving officers in every unit of the Home Guard throughout the United Kingdom as of 1st February 1941, has been published and may be purchased or viewed within local libraries. There are several volumes, as follows:

Home Guard List 1941
by Jon Mills
Savannah Publications, London SE23 3HZ


This is a series of 7 volumes which list all serving Home Guard officers at 1st February 1941, as follows:

1. Eastern Command ISBN 1 902366 22 0
2. London District ISBN 1 902366 23 9
3. Northern Command ISBN 1 902366 24 7
4. Scottish Command ISBN 1 902366 25 5
5. Southern Command ISBN 1 902366 26 3
6. South Eastern Comm. ISBN 1 902366 27 1
7. Western Command ISBN 1 902366 28 X


5.  OTHER OFFICIAL AND PERSONAL RECORDS

- Other records, mainly odd documents about a unit, have sometimes been lodged in the local library and these will often refer to individual members.

- In the National Archives, WO 32 code 66 holds the general registered papers of the Home Guard, while operational records are included with papers of the Prime Minister's Office in PREM 3. Home Guard War Diaries for the Second World War are in WO 166, and a file containing recommendations for the award of the British Empire Medal to Home Guard members is in AIR 2/9040.

- The Imperial War Museum is another source.

- Local history societies can sometimes help. See 7. below.

- Awards for acts of bravery are recorded in the London Gazette, searchable online.

- If a Home Guard lost his life on active service, his name will be commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

- The Army Medal Office has brief records of those who were eligible for the Defence Medal. Contact the following address for more information:

Officer in Charge
The Army Medal Office
Building 250
RAF Innsworth
Innsworth
Gloucester
Gloucestershire GL3 1EZ.

 

6.  PUBLISHED PERSONAL MEMORIES
There are personal reminiscences of life in the Home Guard to be found in many websites, usually community or personal sites. A number of these have been identified and are mentioned within this website. Look under the individual county entries.

There are certainly more - use Google or a similar search engine to seek them out, using a search definition such as - YourTown +"home guard".

It may be worthwhile asking the question in the reference section of one's local library.

One massive online resource which is worth exploring is the BBC's WW2 People's War archive. A number of specific references to the archive are made within this website (again under individual counties) but there are many, many more waiting to be uncovered. Search the People's War site using the following definition: YourTown and "home guard" and WW2.

And of course do not forget to check what is on this site. Find under the individual county pages or use the Search facility. (It's a long shot but miracles do sometimes happen!) Consider putting an appeal in our Visitors' Messages page.

 

7.  LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETIES
Does your family's home town or village have a Local History Association? Perhaps the latter holds an archive of relevant WW2 material. Check with your local library to find out about any local society. And does this, or another local organisation or individual, have a community website (although these are not always well-maintained)? Or, better still, an internet forum? Consider registering and asking for help. (In all cases, give as much information as you are able - full name of course but also, if at all possible, age, rank, unit, dates, location, duties, comrades' names etc.)

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AND if you do discover something interesting and relevant which you would like to share, and you would like to commemorate a father, grandfather or uncle, please consider

The information on this page is provided for guidance only. Researchers should check its validity and appropriateness to particular circumstances before expending time and money in pursuit of their investigations. And if as a result of your own experience you can suggest additions or improvements to this page, PLEASE share them with us and others, using Feedback.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the sources of some of the information: "scrimnet"/GB, "IMBER" and the Veterans Agency.

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OFFICIAL PERSONNEL RECORDS - DETAILED INFORMATION (see 2. above)

The official personal record of individual Home Guard members is normally held by the Ministry of Defence. This is accessible on application but you should note that it will probably only provide the baldest facts.

Requests from former Service personnel for his/her personal data held by the Ministry of Defence are processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998; such requests are called Subject Access Requests (SAR). A SAR must be made in writing and must be accompanied by proof of identity (e.g. a copy of a passport or recent utilities bill), and sufficient information to locate the data sought. To assist the search, your letter should include as much information as possible eg: Service Number, Rank, Full Name, Date of Birth and period served; and of course mention of the Home Guard.

A full copy of the record can be requested; however, original documents, discharge papers/books cannot be replaced (and also see below). The MOD will also provide extracts from service records. Once all the necessary information has been received, your request will be processed and you should receive a reply within 40 calendar days.

To obtain a SAR form, please visit the Veterans Agency website.

 

The following should be noted:
with regard to requests from service personnel and interested parties:
Enquirers must provide a letter of consent, signed by the person to whom the records relate.

with regard to requests for records of deceased personnel:
Enquirers must provide the consent of the Next of Kin and unless the person died in Service, proof of death. A charge may be made for enquiries. (in 2007 - £30).

The following address should be used for ex-soldiers wishing to access their personal records:
Army Personnel Centre,
Disclosure 2,
Mail Point 515,
Kentigern House,
65 Brown Street,
Glasgow,
G2 8EX
Tel: 0845 600 9663

The following address should be used for family members wishing to access
records of deceased soldiers:
Army Personnel Centre,
Historical Disclosures,
Mail Point 400,
Kentigern House,
65 Brown Street,
Glasgow,
G2 8EX

It is strongly recommended that before submitting a request for information on any Home Guard member the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency be contacted to assess the likelihood of success and the extent of any information which is likely to be available. Use the Free Veterans Helpline: 0800 169 2277 (Overseas tel. no. +44 1253 866043)
See also the Agency's website.


It should be noted that detailed personal records are closed for 75 years, and are currently being held at TNT Archive Service, Tetron Point, William Nadin Way, Swadlincote, Derbyshire, DE11 0BB, Tel: 01283 227 911/912/913, Fax: 01283 227 942. This means that in normal circumstances this information remains inaccessible for several years to come.

 

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