Members of the Home Guard train in the Waikato. Formed in 1940 along the lines of the British example, the Home Guard was at first voluntary with a lower age restriction of 15 and no upper age limit. From 1942 it became compulsory for those between the ages of 35 and 50. Initially the guard were not supplied with uniforms and had to make do with an armband. For a long time there was a shortage of weapons and they depended on rifles provided by civilians. However, by 1943 training and resources had improved so that almost 100,000 guardsmen had uniforms. The basic unit of the guard was the platoon. Platoons were intended primarily to provide defence of their own localities, although some also patrolled on deserted beaches. At their greatest strength they included 119,000 guardsmen – 7.5% of the population, more than double the proportion of the Home Guard in Great Britain.
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Photograph by J. F. Louden
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