Grandad’s Army: Volunteers Defending the British Isles in the First World War

Author(s): Mike Osborne 

ISBN: 9781781558188
$26.00 $38.00
The first comprehensive account of the Volunteer Training Corps, the First World War equivalent of the Home Guard in 1940.

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  • An account of the formation, development, organisation, training and operations of the Volunteer Training Corps (VTC)

  • Details of the uniforms, weapons and equipment of the VTC

  • Includes other voluntary bodies, women’s and youth organisations providing medical, transport, police and ARP support on the Home Front

  • An appendix recording the VTC across the British Isles

While the Home Guard of the First World War has entered national mythology, the Volunteer Training Corps (VTC) has been almost forgotten.

With the Regular Army and Territorial Force raised for home defence and committed on the Western Front, those ineligible to serve were keen to protect the country from invasion.

The young and the old, and those keeping the war effort going in factories, shipyards and communications, formed companies to train as soldiers. Initially denied uniforms, weapons, ranks or funds, these volunteers raised cash to equip themselves, and were eventually accepted by the military.

Up to a million civilians, many already working long hours, put in drills, guard-duties and gave up Sundays/holidays to attend training camps. They released trained soldiers for service overseas and trained recruits prior to enlistment.

Alongside were the many medical, transport, ARP, police and youth organisations, which also did their part to keep the home fires burning. Primarily about the Volunteer Training Corps, Grandad’s Army: Volunteers Defending the British Isles in the First World War tells the largely untold story of these voluntary organisations.

BOOK ISBN 9781781558188
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Hardback
PAGES 286 pages
ILLUSTRATIONS 9 black-and-white and 10 colour photographs



Mike Osborne’s interest in fortification began with childhood visits to castles. It has developed over the years to include all aspects of the topic from iron-age forts to Cold War bunkers. He was a volunteer-co-ordinator for the Defence of Britain Project recording the military structures of the twentieth century. After a thirty-year career in education, he took early retirement and since then has produced nearly twenty books. Topics include Civil War sieges and fortifications, drill halls, twentieth-century military structures and the best-selling Defending Britain.