How to look for records of... Home Guard personnel

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

This is a brief guide to researching British army and government records for a person who served in the Home Guard, also known as the Local Defence Volunteers. Most personal service histories are not available at The National Archives, but you will find operational records such as those relating to regimental histories and awards of medals.

Durham Home Guard service papers are available online (see below). For service histories of members of the Home Guard other than Durham you can apply using the forms on GOV.UK. These papers are held by the Ministry of Defence, not The National Archives.

1. What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • the name of the person
  • the unit

2. What records can I see online?

Durham Home Guard enrolment forms (1939-1945)

Search and download enrolment forms (£) of Durham Home Guard personnel from Discovery, our catalogue. These records (WO 409) cover the county of Durham only.

For papers relating to the rest of the Home Guard you can apply using the forms on GOV.UK.

Recommendations for military honours and awards (1935-1990)

Search our catalogue for recommendations for awards (£) such as the Victoria Cross and the Military Medal. This collection (WO 373) includes awards to some Home Guard personnel.

Cabinet Papers (1915-1981)

Search the Cabinet Papers (digitised records from the CAB department) (£) to find some details of Home Guard policy.

3. What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

Home Forces papers and regimental histories (1914-1956)

Browse the records of the Home Forces in WO 199 for regimental histories, nominal rolls of Home Guard auxiliary units and other papers. The unit war diary for the Durham Second Battalion is in WO 199/3324.

Recommendations for the award of the British Empire Medal (1944)

Consult AIR 2/9040 to find recommendations for the award of the British Empire Medal to some members of the Home Guard on stand-down.

Other records (20th century)

Search our catalogue using keywords such as ‘Home Guard’. Your results will include records held by the National Archives and by 2,500 other archives across the UK.

To access records held by The National Archives you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£). To access records held in other archives please contact the archives directly.

4. What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Home Guard personnel records and enrolment forms (1940-1945)

Contact the Ministry of Defence for Home Guard personnel records and enrolment forms (service histories). Details can be found on GOV.UK.

These records may be supplied to next of kin and other members of the public after the Home Guard member’s death.

Durham Light Infantry records (1940s and 1950s)

Search the online catalogue of Durham County Archives to find records of the Durham Light Infantry. These include regulations, orders and instructions for the Durham Home Guard.

Various local records

Use Discovery, our catalogue to search across 2,500 archives in the UK and some abroad. Local archives are a good source for research into how the Second World War affected local areas.

5. What other resources will help me find information?


Search The National Archives’ bookshop to see whether any of the publications below may be available to buy. Alternatively, look in The National Archives’ library catalogue to see what is available to consult at Kew.

William Spencer, Army records (The National Archives, 2008)

Consult published Home Guard lists from 1940 to 1945 to trace an officer in the Home Guard. These are arranged by area and include name indexes.

6. Did you know?

The Home Guard was originally formed as the Local Defence Volunteers in 1940 and was responsible for guarding coastal areas and factories from invasion. It was disbanded in 1945.

Most Home Guard records are still with the Ministry of Defence.