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Keep the Home Guard Turning (1943) is a comedy novel by the English writer Compton Mackenzie (1833–1972),[1] portraying the exploits of the Home Guard[a]The Home Guard was an armed citizen militia raised to defend Britain against a German invasion, operational from 1940 until 1944.[2] on the fictional remote Scottish island group of Todday during the Second World War.

The novel’s characters and setting reappear in its more famous sequel, Whisky GaloreNovel by Compton Mackenzie based on the real-life 1941 sinking of a ship carrying a large quantity of whisky, and the local residents' attempts to recover it and hide it from the authorities. (1947), and Mackenzie’s Captain Waggett, local commander of Todday’s Home Guard, lives on in the character of Captain Mainwaring in the BBC comedy series Dad’s Army. Along with The Monarch of the GlenComedy novel by Compton Mackenzie (1833–1972), portraying life in the fictional Scottish Highland estate of Glenbogle during the 1930s. (1941) and Whisky Galore, Keep the Home Guard Turning is one of Mackenzie’s best remembered works.[3]

Autobiographical elements

The setting of Todday is the first of Mackenzie’s “affectionate portrayals of Barra”, an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland where he had made his home in 1933.[4] Mackenzie was himself appointed local commander of the Home Guard on Barra, with the rank of Captain.[3]

See also




Cannon, John, and Robert Crowcroft. “Home Guard.” A Dictionary of British History, Online, Oxford  University Press, 2015,
Riches, Christopher, and Michael Cox. “Mackenzie, [Sir Edward Montague] Compton (1883–1972) British Novelist.” A Dictionary of Writers and Their Works, Online, Oxford University Press, 2015,
Wallace, Gavin. “Mackenzie, Sir (Edward Montague Anthony) Compton (1883–1972).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Online, Oxford University Press, 2004,
Wilson, Brian. “Compton Mackenzie and the Barra Years.” Stornoway Gazette, 27 Nov. 2022,