Mitcham Home Guard
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|Notes / History||Members of the 57th Surrey (Mitcham) Home Guard, "A" Company, c1943. The Commanding Officer, Major E. L. Shepard, is pictured front row, centre.
The Home Guard, popularly known as Dad’s Army, was set up in May 1940. Men were usually either above or below the age of conscription or those who were not eligible for front line military service. Initially called the Local Defense Volunteers, nearly 1.5 million men had enrolled by July 1940 when the LDV became the Home Guard.
Initially this was a rag-tag militia with make-do uniforms and weapons but it eventually evolved into a well-trained and well-equipped force of 1,700,000 men. Their main duties were to prepare the country for invasion, but they also performed many other duties including bomb disposal. The Home Guard Manual of 1941 lists the force’s main objective as "to have readily available an organised body of men trained to offer stout resistance in every district, and to meet any military emergency until trained troops can be brought up".
Over the course of the war 1206 members of the Home Guard were killed or died of their wounds. On 16th April 1941 no less than 15 members of “B” company 57th Surrey (Mitcham) were killed, when a bomb hit the site of the Tower Creameries on Mitcham Common, where the men were doing night watch. They were buried with full military honours at London Road Cemetery.