Arthur tells real story of Exmouth’s ‘Dad’s Army’

Historian Arthur Cook has now published his second authoratative work on wartime Exmouth, An Illustrated History of the Home Guard.

It follows his work Exmouth at War, and compiles interviews and testimony taken from surviving members of the Home Guard, mixed with carefully restored period photographs and modern studio photographs, taken by John Dyer, of period uniforms and equipment.

The book predominantly focuses on Exmouth and Devon, and the duties of the men and women in the Home Guard and Women’s Home Guard Auxiliary.

It looks at the chronology of the risk of invasion by the Germans after the fall of Dunkirk, and the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France.

It also explores the early beginnings and role of the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) formed in May 1940, and follows the organisation’s growth into the well-equipped and highly-professional Home Guard, which was effectively the largest regiment in the world.

Arthur said: “The book also looks at the defensive nature of the Home Guard’s role, protecting Britain against parachute attacks and invasion from the air, patrolling coastal areas, defending railway and arterial transport systems such as roads, waterways and vulnerable points.

“The book also looks at engagements with the enemy and acts of selfless devotion to duty, which sometimes led to the ultimate sacrifice by its members.”

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There is a book signing at Sleeman’s Outfitters on Exeter Road, Exmouth, this Saturday between 11am and 1pm. The late Bill Sleeman was a founder member of the Exmouth branch of the Home Guard.

Arthur added: “I will be available to discuss the topics in the book with people who are interested in researching their own relatives’ roles.

“I am hoping some of Home Guard contributors to the book will be in attendance, along with Exmouth’s living history group, Blitz and Peaces, who will be dressed in period clothing and displaying items used by the Home Guard.”