An early war photograph showing wardens in bluette overalls and drivers' coats. As they all appear to have standard issue berets this may well be into 1941 but before the allocation of battledress. A messenger sits at the front and oddly what looks like a Catholic priest sits in the centre.
Photo from RAF Museum
I had a spare hour over the weekend and I finally made up a chart for the position of the main insignia found on CD battledress after its introduction. The prescribed locations were detailed in ARP Memo 17. I'll look into doing the ladies ARP Pattern 71 tunic in the future.
It is sometimes curious that an item you've never seen before appears on eBay and then another crops up shortly after. The token on the left appeared first (and sold for £27). I'm not sure what the token was used for to be honest. The one on the right was recently listed but appears to be somewhat less well made. It's almost like a reproduction - the quality is poorer and the numbers look more like those from a modern stamping set.
Came across this photo recently of wardens on one of the Channel Islands. Thought to have taken in 1940 the photo shows a group of mainly white-helmeted ARP wardens with one gentlemen in the centre with a helmet bearing 'ARP'. It's quite rare to see ARP on a helmet (I have seen in appear more often for wardens in Canada and Australia).
An amazing photograph that captures the moment rescue services retrieve the victim of a V1 incident on 23 July 1944. A lot of white helmets and an ambulance (A) and light rescue (LR) member. It appears that some of the helmet insignia and area markings have been obscured by a censor to prevent knowing the location of the incident. There's a MO on the far left and the helmet at the left extreme appears to have two arrows on the side. In the centre is man wearing a beret with what looks like ARP on it (possibly a reused breast badge).
An interesting piece of document ephemera is this ID card for the Ambulance Transport Services in Cardiff.
Just cropped up on eBay is this Warden's BD blouse with a 1942 (letter O) date stamp made by Montague Burton. Has a Leicestershire area marking and war service chevrons and the CD breast badge looks to be the type that were sewn to the jacket before issue. The rarest item is a red wound stripe - for someone wounded in the First World War and goes with the medal ribbon bar. A nice jacket with minor mothing.
Here's a remarkable piece of colour film footage called Home Defence “Go To It” from 1939. It has been shared by the North West Film Archive on Vimeo. Due to the site's domain restrictions I cannot embed the film but you can view it clicking the link above. It's great for looking at period bluette overalls uniform details and civilian clothing detail.
You can't help but think of Mr Cholmondley-Warner when you watch this newsreel...
A visitor to the site was kind enough to share a photo of her grandfather's helmet. He was a GP in the Farnborough area during the wear and held this senior rank in the casualty service. Three diamonds with CS lettering is somewhat rare.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's a wonderful story of the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service and contains some amazing photographs and incredible detail about the running of the service.
Incident Officers attended air raid incidents and managed the various services as they attended to the incident. They were the central point in ensuring that all the available resources were dealing with the situation at hand. If needed they could call up additional resources or redirect newly arrived teams back to base if he/she thought the incident was being dealt with sufficiently well. The sign on the photo below was erected at incidents so the IO could be easily found. The flag below the sign is usually blue in colour (and sometimes in blue and white checks) and the IO sometimes wore a plain blue helmet colour to stand out from other members of the CD services.
I'd like to thank a friend of mine, Chris, for sending me this photo. This is a photo of a V1 incident along Tottenham Court Road in London. If you look at the chap on the far left he appears to be in bluette overalls but has an American-shaped helmet on. I recall reading of a V1 incident in Aldwych in which passing American MPs were involved but they were in full American uniform. Would appear this fellow has 'acquired' a Yank helmet some how.
The below helmet is currently on eBay and it's something I have never seen the likes of before. From the images (check out the link to see more) you can make out "Air Raid Helmet" and "Grimsby" with a patent pending number. Perhaps a company hoping to make a few bob on creating a helmet for civilians before the Zuckerman helmet was released in 1941.
UPDATE: I have been informed that a number of companies made a similar style of helmet. See the advert below for the 'Defiance' helmet. Seems a number of these helmets came into production around the time of the Munich Crisis in 1938.
It's quite rare to see Fire Guard armbands being worn but this photo from Getty has a plethora of them. Not a great deal of information comes with the photo but it does show Zuckerman helmets and standard Mk. II helmets being worn,
There appears to have been no central design for ARP Warden appointment cards. Each local authority designed their own. Some are very basic, some include much more detail. Below is one for Scarborough.
A very nice portrait of ambulance drivers in March 1940 - sadly location unknown. The enormous letters behind them is rather amazing.
A rather nice selection of WW2 and Civil Defence relayed armbands are coming up for sale via saleroom.com. There are some of the generic ones for Fire Watcher (F.W.), First Aid Post (F.A.P.) and ARP Warden varieties as well as a rarer National Savings armband. I believe the top middle is a decontamination (DC) armband for a business. A very nice grouping.
The very rare badge cropped up on eBay. I've never seen this badge before and it's an odd mix of ARP and Housewives Service. It's sure to get the collectors salivating and it'll go for a bomb I imagine.
There's been a number of fake (claimed to be original) ARP plaques and door signs on the market for a number of years. The more common ones are the circular and rectangular ARP Warden plaques surmounted by a crown. They are very light compared to the originals. The below fake has been posted on eBay several times. The giveaway here is that someone didn't do their research. There is no such thing as an "Air Raid Warden Post"... there's an "Air Raid Wardens' Post". There was always more than one person at a post. Also, back in the day, grammar and punctuation was much more stringently followed. If you find a sign with the missing apostrophe chances are it's a fake/reproduction. Stating something is a repro is fine, but calling the below 'original' is simply lying.
This area marking for Coventry is currently on eBay. The type of manufacture, without a border in this case, makes this a second world war and not post war type.
There's not a lot of information about this group portrait of wardens but I assume it's very early war (possibly pre-war) going by the lack of uniforms. They appear to have the basics issued to wardens of a tin helmet, gas mask carrier, armband and lapel badge, Location sadly unknown.
This interesting photograph appears to show a District Warden from Holborn in central London assisting a child with her 'Mickey Mouse' style gas mask. The most peculiar part of his uniform is the placement of the three bars of rank on the lower sleeve. I am assuming these are the yellow bars to denote a district (sometimes called divisional warden). They usually appear at the top of the sleeve. The warden's jacket is somewhat peculiar as well. I thought it was a standard issue battledress but this jacket has chrome buttons to cuff and epaulette - standard issue had revolving shank to epaulettes and a black plastic button to the cuff closure. The area title for Holborn is above the pocket (even above his first world war medal ribbon trio). I think the main badge is the ARP red on black breast badge but I cannot make it out for certain. He also does not have any shoulder titles. The helmet is a standard issue one for a district warden - a single black stripe. He is also wearing a Civil Defence armband which is against the usually prescribed use(they were to be worn over civilian clothes). All-in-all a most peculiar uniform.
The below picture shows London Auxiliary Ambulance Service members Mrs Armitage (left) and Miss Leverton at Buckingham Palace. after being awarded the British Empire Medal by the King, 7 October 1941.
A very scarce enamel sign is currently up on eBay. I've not seen this wording on a sign before and I imagine that it'll go for a packet.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.