Distinguished, but unfortunately often overlooked, wartime/social historian Norman Longmate has made a great contribution to our knowledge of the war with excellent in-depth books on the V1s and V2s, the Coventry Blitz and his essential How We Lived Then, a detailed history of the British Home Front.
However, as a former 17-year-old Sussex Home Guard, he was expertly placed to write the first major post-war history of the Home Guard (amazingly, it took 30 years for the first major book on the subject). Originally published in 1974 as a paperback, although rather thin, it was a detailed and accurate history of the HG, with Longmate using accurate examples from end-of-war HG unit histories, to back up his narrative.
This 'new' version is sufficient but could have been tweaked to make it even better. It retains exactly the same written content, which although still stands the test of time, could have been expanded. The original paperback was 128 pages: the new hardback is 192 pages: the majority of which is new illustations that on the whole do not appear in Longmate's original. These include cartoons from the 1945 comic book 'Home Guard Humour', which amusingly and accurately portrays the HGs shortcomings but nonethess ribs the force and excellent colour plates of Eric Kennington's wonderful portraits of HGs from all over Britain, originally published in John Brophy's 1945 Britain's Home Guard book. The majority of the new photos are (c) Jonathan Reeve archive and despite studying the HG for 30 years, although they are posed press photos, I have not seen many of them. The only down side to these new photos is that they are dull and flat because they are reproduced very low quality, with many looking just like photocopies or reproductions from old newspapers, so it's difficult to see some details, badges etc in them. That said, compared to the original paperback, the photo captions are far more detailed and useful. There is also a short index at the back.
It has taken over a year to find this worthy book to have an initial view of it: strangely, I have not seen it on the shelves at Waterstones and other bookshops etc and with its rather plain/lacklustre cover, I wonder how well this edition has sold - I saw it in a remainder high street book store for £4.99 today.
Nonetheless, even if you have the original paperback, this version is worth getting simply for the new illustrations - and for the fact that it can sit with pride on your bookshelf as the first proper post-war history of the Home Guard, written by a distinguished historian who served in the Home Guard himself.