Facebook X YouTube Instagram Pinterest NetGalley
Google Books previews are unavailable because you have chosen to turn off third party cookies for enhanced content. Visit our cookies page to review your cookie settings.

In Search of the Real Dad's Army (Hardback)

The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944

Military P&S History > British History WWII

By Dr Stephen M Cullen
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781848842694
Published: 30th September 2011



Author interview!

Listen to this interview with author Dr Stephen M Cullen on BBC Radio Merseyside, (interview starts at 1:05:23) 

You'll be £19.99 closer to your next £10.00 credit when you purchase In Search of the Real Dad's Army. What's this?
+£4.99 UK Delivery or free UK delivery if order is over £40
(click here for international delivery rates)

Need a currency converter? Check XE.com for live rates

Other formats available - Buy the Hardback and get the eBook for free! Price
In Search of the Real Dad's Army ePub (3.5 MB) Add to Basket £4.99

What was the Home Guard? Who were the men and women who served in it? And what can be said of their real role and significance once the popular myths have been stripped away?

Despite the fame of the Home Guard – of Dad's Army – the true story of this wartime organization tends to be neglected. The myths obscure the reality. Stephen Cullen's aim in this thoroughgoing new study is to cut through the misunderstandings in order to reassess the Home Guard and its contribution to Britain's war effort – and to deepen our understanding of the men and women who were members of it.

He sets the Home Guard in the long historical context of domestic defence planning, then focuses on the preparations made before the outbreak of the Second World War. In detail he traces the changing role of the Home Guard during its wartime existence as it adapted to meet the multitude of challenges it faced – from civil defence and intelligence gathering to training for guerrilla warfare.

'As Stephen Cullen wrote in his 2016 book, In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944: “General Ironside’s picture of a conveniently lone German tank stopped by a road block being bombarded at close range by LDV [local defence volunteers] petrol bombs, ignore the reality that German armour would be accompanied by infantry trained to neutralise just such a threat. Finnish successes against the Red Army were also a result of poor Soviet infantry tactics… Neither the Spanish, nor the Finnish case, was, then, a good model for Britain in 1940.”

The New European, 22 February 2022

As featured in the article:

Taipei News

A well researched and easy to read book providing a fascinating insight into what it was like to be
a man or woman in the Home Guard in war torn Britain in the 1940s. The book will appeal to all
historians with either a family member interest or an interest in voluntary work during wartime.

North Weald Airfield Museum Newsletter

As referenced in the bibliography for 'Fighting on the Home Front' article

The Armourer Incorporating Classic Arms & Militaria, November 2017

Well-illustrated with pictures, Stephen Cullen's In Search of the Real Dad's Army explains what it was really like working on our home defences between 1940 and 1944.

Evergreen - Summer 2016

The book draws on accounts of those men and women that served in this remarkable volunteer Army. Their experiences and memories are well documented in this book.

An interesting and accurate account of a force that was in fact a well drilled, well organised and by wars end, a very professional fighting unit by the time of its stand down in 1944.

This book is well written and at last gives an accurate and complete portrayal of the Home Guard and the important role it played during WW2.

WW2 Connection

Stephen's account is factual and stirring, and reveals some fascinating facts about this organisation that has enjoyed such huge popularity since Perry and Croft took it under their wing. Superb book...

Books Monthly - Paul Norman

The book gave me an insight into an aspect of World War 2 that I hadn't previously known much about, and I suspect you'll find it equally interesting.

Lost Cousins

Read it for: a thorough history of the context and realities of the Home Guard in World War 2.

Your Family History - Spring 2016

This is a thoroughly researched book that looks at the overarching aspects of domestic defence and gives us more of an understanding of the men and women who were a part of the Home Guard.

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - April 2016 - Emma Slattery

As seen in...

Your Family Tree

Cullen's work looks at the entire history of the Home Guard, from its formation in the dark days of 1940 through its development into a professional force and up to its eventual dissolution in 1944. Cullen covers a wide range of topics, from the very practical to the politically theoretical. Cullen also looks at the development of tactical plans for the use of the Home Guard, as it became an increasingly professional unit, and the increasing use of Home Guard members on anti-aircraft duties. The development of the Home Guard after the real invasion threat was over is interesting, as are the sections on the Home Guard on the Isle of Man and in Northern Ireland. This is a fascinating examination of one of the best known British forces of the Second World War, looking at areas that are often skipped over, and giving a well balanced view of a Home Guard that at its peak was an efficient and increasingly professional military unit.

History of War

This is a fascinating and informative account, well illustrated and with copious references, of a very courageous and devoted group of men and women.


Stephen Cullen gives a vital and lively impression of what it was like to be in the organization. This is likely to be the standard reference book on the subject for many years to come.

Fortress Study Group

Wartime secrets uncovered by author Stephen M Cullen in his fascinating book.

The Weekly News

In Search of the Real Dads Army examines the evolution of the Home Guard from its beginnings until it was stood down in 1944.

Dover Express, Folkstone Herald, Deal & Sandwich Express

This enjoyable and well-illustrated book covers the 'rags to riches' story of the Home Guard from the 1940 volunteer in civilian clothing, armed with a keepsake from an earlier war, to the fully trained and equipped part-time soldier.

The Armourer
Dr Stephen M Cullen

About Dr Stephen M Cullen

After studying at the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford, Dr Stephen M. Cullen taught economics, history and politics at independent schools.  He has published many papers and articles on twentieth-century history, in particular on the world wars, fascism, Jewish political activism, and the Home Guard. He is the author of In Search of the Real Dad’s Army: The Home Guard and the Defence of the United Kingdom 1940-1944 and World War II Vichy French Security Troops, and is a senior research fellow at the University of Warwick.

More titles by Dr Stephen M Cullen

Other titles in Pen & Sword Military...