A lovely original mint condition pair of Joseph Lucas Ltd No. 68 A.R.P. Bicycle Lamps. Hooded at the front to reduce light exposure. Almost impossible to get batteries to fit these particular model but modern 3D printed inserts can be bought on eBay. These slide into the body and take AA batteries. More lamps and torches
A member of the Facebook group related to this site sent these photos and this very interesting research about this Party Leader Ambulance helmet: "Every now and then you get a little gem this helmet came with the address carefully written inside along with the name White-Cooper. Rupert Charles White-Cooper won the MC in the First World War with the Manchesters, he became a well known Architect dying in 1970. His wife Mary gained a pilot's licence in 1939. Who's was the helmet we may never know but they both lived at 38 Addison Avenue Holland Park London."
A photo from LIFE that shows a gas mask exercise taking place in Kingston upon Thames. It appears tear gas was used to ensure people did indeed use their gas mask during the event. Love the name of the shop in the background - Coronation Tuck Shop.
An image from Getty that I had not come across before. Although undoubtedly a staged photo, the notes for the photo say: "20th January 1940: Ambulance drivers often suffer eye strain from having to drive through the blackout. These eye masks saturated with eye lotion help to ease their discomfort in moments of relaxation." Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images
A photo of two wardens at the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in London 1939. The gentleman on the left has a gas curtain attached to his helmet.
For keeping a gas mask safe at home a number of manufacturers made tins for the general public. The blow is a fine example of such a tin.
Matchbox covers for various home front services were made during the war. This one is for the Civil Defence services but HG (Home Guard), AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) as well as previous blogged ARP were sold. I do not know anything about the companies responsible for making these, but if you do, please share more.
More reproduction GWR ARP armbands are appearing on eBay that are being sold as WW2 originals. These were made for members of a vintage steam railway. They are good repductions but are not original. As ever, caveat emptor...
An appointment card for the Borough of Walsall in the Midlands. The bearer's name has been written in an almost Tolkienesque font, most unusual.
ARP fire fighter's goggles which have blue tinted lenses and are GR and crown marked.
During the second world war the Royal Life Saving Society offered training to civilians in first aid and artificial respiration. Those who were members of the Civil Defence service were entitled to wear the society's woven 2" x 2" red on dark navy blue badge on their right breast pocket of battledress (I have not yet come across this badge on a ladies' Pattern 71 tunic). There was a separate oxidised metal badge that could be worn on civilian clothing (though at least one photo shows a full colour enamel badge being worn on bluette overalls early in the war).
The most interesting photo and description shows the destruction of street level air raid shelters. Dated April 1945 it shows that by this late stage of the war there was no longer any threat from the Luftwaffe or V-weapons (obviously the remaining airfields were way inside Germany and the range of V2s (about 200 miles) could no longer reach the UK).
Of all the civil defence services, the Fire Guard was to have the most members during the second world war. Compulsory registration was brought in during 1943 and hundreds of thousands of people were required to join Fire Guard parties. The below is an example of a training notification. Read a short history of the Fire Guard
This helmet is currently for sale on eBay (at time of writing bids had already exceeded £175). The seller claims that it is a first world war vintage helmet that was reissued in the second world war. It has 1938 dated chin strap lugs.
Derry & Toms was a London department store on Kensington High Street founded in 1853. It was renown for its roof garden. It closed in 1973 and the building was subsequently developed into smaller retail spaces and office space.
Derry & Toms is also Cockney rhyming slang do bombs, as in "A Tom dropped on my house..."
This photo was sent to my Facebook page and shows a group of rescue workers lined up in front of their vehicle. It's thought this may be from the Derbyshire area. The car is probably a pre-war American import that has been requisitioned by the local authority and converted for the use by a rescue squad (there's a ladder and stretchers on the roof). Unsure what the make of the car is - some think a Packard and others have said an Auburn.
A very interesting air raid warden's authority card cropped up on eBay recently. For the City of Birmingham and dated in 1940 it is for a Mrs. B. F. Jones who was the Lady Deputy Group Warden.
I am indebted to a visitor of this website for allowing me to share the following marvellous photos. They include his mother, Kathie Noble, who was an ambulance driver for the Civil Defence service in Sheffield during the war. She was stationed at Corporation Street but they also used Pye Bank School Yard. On one particular evening of a blitz on Sheffield her ambulance was stopped from attending an incident as it was going to an area from where she lived. I have previously included a photo from Sheffield that included Kathie Noble. She is on the far right in that photo.
Preparations for the possible evacuation of children from areas likely to be bombed started in 1938. After September 1939, children who had been previously registered for evacuation were gathered at schools and transported to stations for onward travel to their destinations. Staff employed by the London County Council to assist the evacuees would where armbands like below.
Consisting of a green cotton section with white tapes with tying together on the upper arm. Printed with L.C.C. & EVAC. it has a further number added, probably by the person it was originally issued to. The coat of arms is for London County Council. It is described as "Barry wavy of six azure and argent, on a Chief of the last the cross of St George charged with a lion of England, the shield ensigned with a Mural Crown gold". The blue and silver waves represented the River Thames and the Port of London. The English lion on a St George's cross was to show that London was the "Royal centre of England", encompassing the nation's capital city. The gold mural crown indicated that the arms were those of a municipal body.
This is a pretty standard end of war 'stand down' photograph. The vast majority of civil defence personnel had these photos taken. There's nothing too surprising regarding insignia and uniforms but on the far right it looks like a gentleman has a different colour lanyard to the others. I've not seen this before and the colour may be a red lanyard whilst the others are old gold. I cannot determine the location from the area title alas.
A small group of Fire Guard pose with a (small) trophy. Probably the winners of a local competition there is an interesting helmet marking on the chap bottom left. I'm unsure currently what the extra letters relate to. It looks like a P and an L. The gentleman bottom right does not seem at all pleased with the proceedings...
Going by the information on this letter, the PL on the helmet almost certainly refers to "Party Leader". Seems there's quite a lot of hierarchy in the Fire Guard here - Sector Captain, Party Leader and then Sector Clerk.
This unique style of badge recently appeared among a selection of military badges for auction. I've not seen this style before and I'm uncertain exactly where it would have been worn, possibly on bluette overalls given the red lettering.
I've been receiving a number of emails requesting how someone may go about researching a member of their family who was an air raid warden or in other ARP and Civil Defence services. The key starting point is their local archive usually at the library (or sometimes called a local history centre, local studies centre or archives centre). The online starting point would be the 'Search local archives' website.
However, I have searched through a number of these in the London area and details about an individual who may have served are generally absent. Unless they were a senior member (along the lines of an Incident Officer) then it's unfortunately highly unlikely the archive will have much more detail than their name appearing on a list of wardens (but even that is difficult to come across).
Finding details about an individual at these archives is therefore generally not going to happen. The archives do hold minutes of council meetings and some have letters from individuals but overall finding out about one person will not be possible. A few archives may have lists of wardens and the post they occupied but I have only seen one such list so far and it was for just a period in the summer of 1941.
Some areas do have active local history groups that can assist research but again the likelihood of finding any detailed information on one person is unlikely.
There is also the National Archives but their search engine often directs a user to the local archive. They hold numerous ARP and Civil Defence records but these are generally related to governmental business.
An aide memoire for wardens not use to using the 24 hour clock.
I've previously included this photo on the site but this is a better quality image. The Divisional/District warden here is helping a child with her Mickey Mouse style gas mask. The interesting part of his uniform is that he has the battledress jacket but is using the original red insignia on his lower sleeve (before the 'old gold' insignia was introduced in late 1941). The three bars with out star usually relate to a deputy chief warden (which clashes somewhat with the designation on his helmet). Again this is an example of the mix-and-match approach found on many period photos. He has placed his Kilburn area title above his medal ribbons and above this his ARP badge. The use of the Civil Defence armband was usually not allowed on uniform but this is probably a publicity photo and was used in this instance.
I have seen a few other photos of the County Borough Of Southport ARP Mobile First Aid Post but this particular image was new to me. This first aid post was constructed from a modified bus and was of quite an intricate design. I am assuming that the idea was that the bus could attend at major air raid incidents when the local first aid posts may have been overwhelmed.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.