The big screen reboot of classic BBC sitcom Dad's Army has had mixed reviews but the film has reignited interest in the improvised band of volunteers that made up Britain's Home Guard during the Second World War.

Initially named Local Defence Volunteers, or LDV, the Home Guard was composed of local volunteers who were ineligible for military service, either by being in professions that were exempt from conscription, or by being too old (hence the nickname "Dad's Army"). The Home Guard helped to protect coastal areas and key sites such as airfields and factories from 1940 until 1944. Their main role was to act as "an armed police constabulary", slowing down the advance of the enemy in the event of an invasion. However, they did engage in combat situations, manning anti-aircraft weapons. They have been credited with shooting down numerous Luftwaffe aircraft and V-1 flying bombs.

IBTimes UK looks back at the real life Dad's Army in these vintage photographs of the Home Guard going about their duties during the war.

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22 June 1940: A member of the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers – forerunner of the Home Guards) in instructed on how to fire a rifle at the National Shooting Centre in Bisley, SurreyKeystone/Getty Images
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Circa 1940: Men from the London Transport Board's own Home Guard learn to fire a machine gunHulton Archive/Getty Images
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A veteran sergeant in the Dorking Home Guard cleans his Tommy gun at the dining room table, before going on parade, 1 December 1940Imperial War Museum
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Circa 1942: Members of the Home Guard, the home defence division of the British Army, display an array of weaponryFox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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31 July 1940: Members of the Home Guard train their racing pigeons as messengers, in Blackburn, LancashireFox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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31 July 1940: Members of the LDV (Local Defence Volunteers – later called the Home Guard) in the north west of England train racing pigeons to carry messages from outposts on the moors to Home Guard HQFox Photos/Getty Images
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A Leicestershire Home Guard anti-tank section capture their first "Nazi" Whippet tank during a training exerciseImperial War Museum
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4 September 1941: Sergeant Gander, a 60-year-old bus driver and member of the 14th Sussex-Hove Battalion Home Guard, demonstrates his ability to balance a 130lb barbell on his headFox Photos/Getty Images
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20 September 1941: The total weight of the men and the weights borne by the physical training instructor to the local Home Guard is 39 stone (248kg). He himself weighs just over 11 stone (70kg) and is 60 years of ageFox Photos/Getty Images
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15 october 1940: Two men of the Auxiliary Fire Service watch Home Guardsman Joe Price, a blacksmith by trade, bending an iron bar with his teethMaeers/Getty Images
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January 1942: Home Guards smear green paint on each other during a camouflage training course at Fieldcraft School in South-Eastern CommandHarry Todd/Fox Photos/Getty Images
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Circa 1942: General Montgomery meets a camouflaged Home Guard on a tactical training course in South Eastern CommandFox Photos/Getty Images
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1 November 1942: A sniper from the 25th Battalion London Home Guard demonstrates the use of camouflage with sacking dyed green and brownHorace Abrahams/Getty Images
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Circa 1942: A member of the 25th Battalion of the London Home Guard gives a camouflage demonstration using strips of old wallpaperKeystone/Getty Images
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7 October 1942: Armed London cabbies with camouflaged taxis take part in an anti-invasion exercise. Their job was to resist 'invading Germans' who had established a bridgehead in Southend and were advancing on London through Epping ForestReg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images
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19 September 1940: Members of a Home Guard unit attached to the St Martin's Preserving Company factory in Berkshire, train with an improvised armoured carFox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Home Guard bayonet instructor Corporal Charles Batchelor thrusts his bayonet firmly into a hanging sack (representing the enemy) during a training exercise in an English villageImperial War Museum
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Sir Winston Churchill inspects the House of Commons Home Guard in Spencer's Yard, London, 13 May 1942Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
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Circa 1941: Two members of the Home Guard, armed with Thompson sub-machine or 'Tommy' guns, take part in training at a rifle range in Western Command, circa 1941Keystone/Getty Images
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1940: Commandant Nichols reviews the men of the No 1 Company, E Battalion, of Manchester's Home GuardFox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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12 September 1940: German airmen, who parachuted from a Heinkel HE-111 bomber that was shot down in the Battle of Britain, are marched off by the Home Guard in Goodwood, SussexFox Photos/Getty Images
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August 1940: The wreckage of a German Dornier bomber aircraft brought down in the south London area by rifle fire from the local Home GuardCentral Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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4 September 1940: Three soldiers of the Home Guard pose with a wrecked Messerschmitt (believed to be one of Goering's Yellow Nose squadron) shot down over south-east England during the Battle of Britain. The man on the right points to the seven victory 'notches' on the aeroplane's tailCentral Press/Getty Images
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8 September 1940: A Home Guard soldier stands beside the wing of a German Junkers 88 bomber which crashed near Kentish Town, north LondonFox Photos/Getty Images
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1940: A Home Guardsman in a makeshift tankCentral Press/Getty Images
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7 September 1940: Members of the Home Guard help residents to remove furniture from their homes after air raids in the East End of LondonA. J. O'Brien/Fox Photos/Getty Images
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10 July 1942: A platoon of Special Service commandos formed from the ranks of bus drivers and conductors of the London Transport Home Guard advance through a smoke screen with bayonets fixed during a training exerciseReg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images
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Circa 1941: The Post Office Home Guard and the London Midland Scottish Home Guard carry out a mock invasion of the City of LondonKeystone/Getty Images
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Circa 1941: Members of the Home Guard at a training camp learn how to assemble a Tommy gunFox Photos/Getty Images
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Home Guard soldiers on motorcycles with sidecars fitted with Lewis guns during an exercise near Exeter, 10 August 1941Imperial War Museum
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29 July 1941: A one-man anti-gas ambulance and resuscitator, designed and made for use by the Home GuardFox Photos/Getty Images
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19 April 1941: Lord Redesdale (right), wearing his Home Guard uniform, chats to a guest outside St Bartholomew the Great Church in Smithfield, London, following the wedding of his daughter Unity Mitford to Andrew CavendishGeorge W. Hales/Fox Photos/Getty Images
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Circa 1940: Members of the Home Guard River Patrol on the Thames at Teddington LockFox Photos/Getty Images
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1941: Members of the Home Guard are given plane-spotting training, using models, charts and blackboard diagramsFox Photos/Getty Images