Their Finest Hour, May 1940

© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Image credit: The Royal Hospital Chelsea

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On 14th May, 1940, the Government broadcast a message asking for volunteers for the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers). Churchill later changed the name to the Home Guard. It was formed when there was a real risk of invasion, most men who could fight were already in the forces, and those that were left were either too young, too old, or in reserved occupations, jobs vital to the war effort. The Home Guard at this time were expected to fight any invasion of crack German troops with nothing more than a collection of old shotguns and ad hoc homemade weapons! Within the first month 750,000 men had volunteered, and by the end of June the total was over one million where it stayed until stood down in December 1944. The Royal Hospital Chelsea furnished two detachments that formed part of the Kensington Battalion, including many staff and In-Pensioners anxious to do their bit!

The Royal Hospital Chelsea



Their Finest Hour, May 1940


oil on canvas


H 61 x W 90 cm

Accession number


Work type



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