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The Real Dad's Army: The Story of the Home Guard Hardcover – 15 Aug 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Amberley Publishing; 1 edition (15 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848689144
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848689145
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,021,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

'A fascinating history' --Daily Mail

'Wonderful stories - a well-written account of the last line of defense' --Daily Mirror

About the Author

Norman Longmate, ex-Private ‘F’ Company, 3rd Sussex Battalion, Home Guard, joined ‘Dad’s Army’ at the same age as the fictional character ‘Pike’, 17. To this day he contends that the much-loved sitcom was remarkably accurate in it’s portrayal of life in the Home Guard. After the war he read modern history at Worcester College, Oxford worked as a journalist and radio producer of history documentaries and is the author of twenty books on the Second World War. He lives in London.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite sometimes somewhat clunky writing, this is a lively and sensitive insight into a time now remembered by a shrinking group of people. Well worth reading, particularly by those born after 1945.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is packaged as a new book but is actually the text of the 1974 edition and , as such, is considerably out of date. The original edition was published to accompany an Imperal War Museum exhibition and the release of Series Seven of Dad's Army. Longmate was a journalist and BBC producer. The book was, therefore, closely tied to the image of the Home Guard as presented in the TV series. In many ways its purpose was to validate the TV series. It was written in two months and relied heavily on 1940s souvenir history books and anecdotal evidence, rather than fresh archival research. The tone is clearly reflected in the publisher's 'blurb' advertising 'a wealth of hilarious anecdotes as well as all the unlikely facts to produce the first popular history of the Home Guard to be written since the war'. Its purpose was to entertain in the spirit of the TV series rather than to properly inform. Only one episode in the TV series dealt with the Women in the Home Guard and likewise the book is extremely thin on details of the Women's Auxiliary Home Guard. The only positive value of the 1940 Osterley Training School that Longmate mentions is the lesson on how to boil potatoes in ones's helmet. There is no mention of the training in camouflage, street fighting or guerrilla warfare. The ruthless mode of warfare taught at Osterley had no place in the gentle comedy of the TV series or, it seems, in Longmate's history. The author served as a teenage member of the Home Guard from 1943 and aspects of the book seem coloured by this experience. By now, service in the Home Guard had a compulsory element and he appears to have resented the time spent in the Home Guard, concluding that it 'did more harm than good' by depriving men of sleep and recreation'.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I realize that this book is presented as a "popular history", but after all the editions and printings it has gone through, isn't it time for a little fact-checking? For example, in the chapter on weapons used by the HG, it is claimed that the SMLE rifle “was accurate up to 1,600 yards”. 600 would already be optimistic.
Longmate describes the Browning M1917 medium machine gun as a “heavier two-man version” of the Browning Automatic Rifle, which is not very enlightening (and plain wrong technically), and also claims that it had a rate of fire twice that of the BAR (actual rate was 450-600 rpm).
He further states “In 1941 tommy-guns were no sooner issued than they were withdrawn again for use by the Commandos”. Apparently in one or two cases some Thompson submachine guns were in fact withdrawn again after issue to the HG, but as a general statement that is clearly incorrect. Thompsons were distributed to the HG on a remarkably generous scale for such an expensive weapon; according to the official monthly returns, they had no less than 43,017 of them by March 1942, after which they were gradually replaced by Stens.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
think my grand dad was in the dads army. nice to learn what he did
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
another example as to why I order my books from Amazon!! - A1 !!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very good read
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant read, i think the quality was goid, but would have liked to see in hard back
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