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It was a sunny, September Sunday, when the news that Britain had declared war on Germany was broadcast. Where possible people had either stayed in to listen to the impending news on their wireless sets, or gone to their neighbours to listen to the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s fateful speech to the nation. The peace time size of the Territorial Army had already been doubled in size and some of these men were already fighting in France and Belgium.

At home, as early as October 1939, Winston Churchill had proposed that a second line of defence should be put in place. This force was to be made up of men over the age of 40 and not already serving in the armed forces. The role of this volunteer army of a proposed 5 million men was to guard vulnerable points such as ports, railways and tunnels, key road junctions, possible sites for amphibious invasion and moorland and areas which could be attacked by gliders and paratroops.

This was the Home Guard (initially the ‘Local Defence Volunteers’ or LDV, known by some as ‘Look-Duck-Vanish’), a defence organisation within the British Army. Operational from 1940 until 1944, the Home Guard, comprising 1.5 million local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, usually owing to age, or reserve occupation was given the nickname ‘Dad's Army’. This highly illustrated book tells their fascinating story.

Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 105 0, hardback, 297x210mm, 160 pages. Published September 2011.


Publications in which my photographs have appeared.
  • Exmouth at War

  • An Illustrated History of the Homeguard

  • The Times

  • The Daily Telegraph

  • The Daily Mail

  • The Guardian

  • SAGA Magazine

  • Britain at War Magazine

  • 100 Military Vehicles DVD

  • Western Morning News

  • Express and Echo

  • Exmouth Journal

  • Exmouth Herald

  • Midweek Herald

  • The Weekender




In the great scheme of things people often forget that many of Devon’s towns and villages, far from being sleepy wartime backwaters, played a vital role in the fight against the Nazis. Indeed it has been said that Devon was among the most militarily active of any county during the Second World War.

In this book the author looks at his home town of Exmouth during the war years, drawing on years of collecting information and images, and interviewing many people who lived through the period and whose eye-witness accounts are included here.

A small but important port at the mouth of the River Exe, the town was victim to a number of raids including a devastating attack from the air in February 1943 in which 26 people were killed, many wounded, with great destruction of property. This and many other aspects of wartime in the town are covered, including: The Home Guard; Children in Wartime; The Exmouth Civil Defence; The Role of Women in War; and the American Presence.

With over 150 photographs, this important book will fascinate anyone who has a connection to Exmouth past or present, and all those interested in the history of the war on the Home Front.

Arthur Cook lives in Exmouth and has spent much of his recent life recording and collection memories of wartime from local people. His interest in this period of history started when he was a small boy when most of the toys he played with, including comics that he read and the films that he watched, were about the war. His interest in music also centred on the 1930s and 40s and when he met his wife in 2004, they decided to combine their interests and formed ‘Blitz and Peaces’, a live World War Two music show with which they now tour Britain, performing at living history events, museums, schools and preserved steam railways.

Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 071 8, hardback, 297x210mm, 160 pages. Published October 2010.