It’s well-known that Jimmy Perry drew on his own experience as a youthful member of the Local Defence Volunteers in creating Dad’s Army. Perry joined the LDV at the start of WW2 because he was too young to join the regular army – a situation he reflected in the character of young Frank Pike.
New research from the National Archives has shown that Jimmy and Frank were much more common than previously thought; and that the Home Guard, far from being composed of Frasers, Joneses and Godfreys was a lads army: with half aged less than 27 and 28% aged 18 or younger.
The discovery came about during work to publish the detailed records of men who served in the Home Guard during WW2. Only the details of those born 100 years ago or longer are allowed to be published. National Archives researchers were surprised to discover that a large proportion of the available records had to be withheld because the reservists had been born after 1912, showing that the Home Guard was not the preserve of older men as previously thought. What role Dad’s Army may have had in creating the myth is a matter of speculation!
More details about the National Archives Home Guard project, including how to access the published records, is available here.