WAR OFFICE MESSAGE - May 18th 1940

This is a page of

The initial telegram from the War Office to Home Commands, sent on the day following Eden's announcement, was supplemented three days later, on Saturday, May 18th 1940, by a more detailed set of instructions.



27/Gen/2594 (A.G.1.A.).                                                          18th May, 1940


1. I am commanded by the Army Council to refer to War Office Teleprinter message 8560 (A.G.1.A.) dated 15th May, 1940, in connection with the formation of an unpaid Local Defence Volunteer Force.

2. This Force will form part of the Armed Forces of the Crown and will be subject to Military Law. But, the intention of the Army Council is that for the purposes of administration, the outstanding features should be simplicity, elasticity and decentralised control, coupled with the minimum of regulations and formalities.

3. There will be no establishment for the Force. There will be no officers nor non-commissioned officers in the ordinary Army sense of these terms. There will be no pay nor other emoluments. The engagement of the volunteer will be for a period not exceeding the duration of the present emergency, but may be terminated by the competent authority at any time, or at his own request on his giving fourteen days' notice in writing.

4. The numbers to be enrolled will depend entirely upon the numbers available and the numbers required. The latter will be fixed by Area Commanders, but it should be remembered that in addition to the total numbers required to bear arms in an emergency, additional personnel will be necessary for clerical and similar administrative duties. Volunteers, when enrolled, will be formed into sections. The normal approximate size of a section (which will be the basic unit) will be ten men, but rigid adherence to this figure is unnecessary. Sections will be grouped into platoons and platoons into companies, according to local defence requirements.

5. Volunteer Area organisers (in conjunction with volunteer Group and Zone organisers) will select, and nominate to the Area Commander, individuals for appointment as Company commanders. The Company commanders will then appoint platoon commanders and section leaders. When the initial organisation has been completed and Company commanders are appointed, the retention of volunteer Area, Group and Zone organisers, referred to in paragraph 4 of War Office urgent postal telegram 8560 (A.G.1.A.) dated 15th May, 1940, will be reconsidered.

6. All appointments will be acting and unpaid. Appointments below that of Company commander will be made or relinquished at the discretion of the Company commander. Appointments of Company commanders and above, and their relinquishments, will be effected on the authority of the Area Commander.

7. No commander of a unit or sub-unit of the Local Defence Volunteer Force will have any power of command over any personnel other than his juniors in the Local Defence Volunteer Force.

8. Enrolment of volunteers on the prescribed form will be effected by Company commanders who are authorised to accept applicants, as soon as possible. When completed, these forms will be kept by the Company commanders. There will be no Record or Pay Office organisation, and no forms, other than the enrolment form (with record of service on the second page thereof), are contemplated at present.
Relevant extracts from the enrolment forms and any further particulars or records affecting volunteers will be entered into a Company book to be kept by the Company commander, and where it is necessary to do so, extracts from these books will be entered on the volunteer's enrolment form.
All casualties or appointments will be reported to the Company commander and will be entered on the back of the enrolment form. In the event of known casualties of a serious nature the next of kin will be informed by the Company commander.

9. Volunteers whose conduct has been satisfactory but who may be found to be surplus to requirements, will be granted a discharge under the heading "Services no longer required - surplus to requirements." The competent authority for purposes of termination of engagement under this heading will be the Company commander.
Instructions in connection with discipline, and termination of engagement for disciplinary reasons will be issued separately.

10. Arms, ammunition and uniform will be issued under Command arrangements to Areas, who will be responsible for arranging their storage, distribution and safeguarding. The utmost care will be exercised in the selection of suitable store places.
Separate instructions will be issued with regard to the provision of arms, ammunition and uniform.

11. Instructions dealing with travelling, travelling allowances, petrol issues, etc., supplementing those contained in War Office urgent postal telegrams 20/Misc/1763 (F.4.a) dated 17th May, 1940 and 53/Gen/5277 (S.T.2) dated 27th May, 1940, are being issued separately.

12. Claims for compensation on account of disabilities attributable to service will be dealt with under the regulations for the time being in force. Those regulations will provide for the same terms in the case of death or permanent disablement, as are applicable to private soldiers and their dependants.

13. A specimen of an Enrolment Form is attached. Supplies of these forms are being despatched at once direct to Area Head-quarters for distribution to Company commanders.

14. The Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces, is responsible for the
operational control, organisation and training of the Local Defence Volunteer Force.

I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,

(Signed) G. W. Lambert

Copy to :- The Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces, etc.