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In May 1940, the Germans launched their invasion of the Low Countries and France, which led to a rapid surrender of those countries and the evacuation of the British Army through Dunkirk. Even as that campaign was unfolding, there were calls in Britain from MPs, army officers and newspapers for a local militia to be formed. Many people took matters into their own hands. Local groups were formed to shoot German paratroops, round up shot-down German airmen, and to guard town halls or other key buildings. Ownership of firearms was much more widespread in 1940 than it is now, so thousands of people were involved. Many of these were women. But when the Local Defence Volunteers (as the Home Guard was at first known) was officially formed, it was a maleonly organisation. In December 1941, the unofficial Women’s Home Defence was established to perform auxiliary support roles, though before long, armed women were guarding factories and bridges that were feared to be targets for sabotage. The Home Guard was disbanded in December 1945.
Age and background posed no boundary to women wishing to enlist in the unofficial Home Defence