Here are 16 cartoons created to explain the role of a WW2 Bomb Reconnaissance Officer during the second world war. The cartoons were created by No. 2 Bomb Disposal Group, Royal Engineers for use by the Civil Defence Services. I am indebted to Chris Ransted, author of Bomb Disposal in World War Two, for sharing these images.
In slide 3 'köpfring' refers to a a metal ring, triangular in cross section, designed to prevent a bomb penetrating the ground. In slide 10, the term 'camouflets' is an artificial cavern created by an explosion. If the explosion reaches the surface then it is called a crater.
Another fake ARP badge to add to the growing list of badges being sold as original on eBay. Featuring all the classic hallmarks of the fakes: acid staining, poor casting, identical pin and clasp. Previously sold by the same seller a few months ago. An absolute rip off.
The threat of chemical weapons being used during WW2 was taken extremely seriously at the Ministry of Health. Large scale information campaigns involving posters, leaflets and cinema shorts were released. The below is a leaflet designed to update the population of the various gases that could be employed by the enemy. See also WW2 Gas Identification Disk
Yet more fake ARP enamel badges on eBay (see these links for more information - fakes and more fakes and yet more fakes). This time we have a reproduction / fake of a Straits Settlements ARP badge. It features all the common traits of these fake ARP badges:
1) Acid dipped to give the verdigris look,
2) Same poor quality pic fitting,
3) Knocked about front to give the appearance of age.
Absolute garbage but the seller on eBay keeps offering this and several other fakes on a regular basis. If you did by mistake buy this os a similar badge get back onto eBay and send the badge back. It is not a WW2 badge.
Yet another example of the fake ARP enamel badges been sold on eBay (more examples here). This time for the London Housewives Service. Usually these badges are dipped in an acid solution to age them but this one has been left as made. The rear is the giveaway that this is part of the current spate of fake ARP badges being made. It has the exact same pin and also the stippling. The font to the front is also a modern style. The ARP is copied across several badges as well.
This particular badge is based off a similar badge for the Bushbury Housewives Service. A comparison of the badges clearly shows the difference between the fakes and original.
I am indebted to a visitor to this blog for sharing the following images. They include the Certificate of Enrolment, First Aid examination pass note and the B.R.C.S. (British Red Cross Society) ARP Reserve armband. The enrolment certificate is quite a scarce item to see.
A veritable avalanche of fake ARP and home front enamel badges are now reaching eBay. As previously described in this blog post the badges all follow the same style of manufacture. The ever-present green verdigris staining is thought to be caused by dipping the badges in an acid solution. The reason? To age the badge and also cover up the fact it was recently made. Every single badge has a pin fitting (and every pin fitting looks the same). The vast majority of badges produced during the war, and especially the factory and industrial badges were fitted with the half-moon lapel fitting (as they were mainly issued to men).
It would appear that the prices paid for the badges is falling as avid collectors are now aware that these fake ARP badges have no provenance and are almost certainly modern reproductions.
The latest fake ARP badges include:
- A Straits Settlements coloured ARP badge.
- BBC London ARP and Queen's Canteen ARP Badges. The BBC badge shares the same font found on the fake Rolls Royce ARP badge previously covered here. An example of the Queens Canteen badge is known but this fake shows the acid dip and pin common to all these fake badges.
During the war a number of instructional slides set were created. These were shown during training classes. The people covers how to deal with patients affected by tear gas.
Two photos of wardens from the Bromley area in south-east London. Going be the lack of war service chevrons and also non first aid badges in evidence I would say this was taken shortly after the group took delivery of the serge battledress blouses and trousers. The same group has posed with and without their helmets.
The simple answer appears to be yes. Over the past year a large number of fake ARP and home front badges have reached the market that have distinctly modern manufacturing processes on them. More fakes are being detected every week. The key pointers are:
1) verdigris on the back (which is probably from dipping the badge in acid of some sort),
2) all with pin attachment (most wartime badges, esp. ARP ones are lapel fitting),
3) no maker's mark (this is one of the key giveaways of being a fake),
4) a stippling to the rear where originals are often smooth and well finished,
5) modern letter fonts (letters are machine cut using modern day fonts).
These fake ARP badges often have dings and marks to the front surface in an attempt to age the badges.
The fake ARP badge fronts appear to be well made (the enamel is not up to the wartime standards though) but the backs all appear very similar. It's peculiar that if someone is going to the effort of faking industrial ARP badges then omitting to cast the rear correctly is somewhat odd. It is probably down to the reproducing manner being unable to copy makers' marks. The flip of this is that the badges are readily selling online and at auction houses. Most of the badges are selling for over £100 to £150.
I have a collection of a few hundred WW2 Home Front badges and not a single one has this verdigris on the reverse. Other collectors have also noted that their badges are also without this colouration.
A small sample of the fake ARP badges being reproduced are:
1 - A winged AVRO ARP badge. There is a triangular badge that is genuine (and without a maker mark) but the winged AVRO ARP badges all have the verdigris and poor pin manufacture. They are without maker's mark. Badges have sold on eBay fro between £100 and £150 and the badge has also been sold at an auction house.
2 - Women's Home Defence shield. All original badges have the maker "Collins London" on rear and a sturdy brass pin. The fakes omit the maker mark and have a poor pin assembly. They also carry the verdigris. Selling on eBay for over £50.
3 - Austin Motor Works red ARP Controller badge. The original badge has a half-moon lapel fitting and maker's mark. The fakes all have a pin and no maker mark with verdigris to back (and sometime front). Several copies of this badge suddenly appeared on eBay in the last six months (date March 2020). Copies selling for over £100 on eBay.
4 - Rolls Royce R&R ARP badge. More of the same here with the back identical to other forgeries. One sold on eBay on 30 December 2019 for £260. Another almost identical badge was listed for sale on eBay on 15 March 2020.
5. Coventry ARP First Aid. Same pin, stippling and verdigris as the others.
6. Handley Page Ltd ARP Badge. Same condition as others.
- Auxiliary Home Guard blue and red shields. These are poor fakes as the the front enamelling is much poorer than the examples above. The poor example on eBay was pulled after the seller was inundated with messages about the originality of the badge.
- London Housewives Service. This circular badge is also now being faked. It is based on an original from a different area.
- WW2 Free Czechoslovak Field Ambulance England badge. Another verdigris fake that omits the maker of Miller found on all the originals. This fake also has the completely wrong style of pin that is found on originals. Below an original on the left and a fake on the right.
Mr Benjamin Stanley Musgrave, an ARP warden from Chingford, shows his BEM to Miss Fenn and his sister Mrs Franklin after he visited the King at a recent Investiture, 29 May, 1941. The British Empire Medal (formally British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service) is a medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown. The current honour was created in 1922 to replace the original medal, which had been established in 1917 as part of the Order of the British Empire.
In the Supplement to the London Gazette dated 28 March 1941:
Awarded the Medal of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Meritorious Service:--B enjamin Stanley Musgrave, A.R.P. Warden, Chingford.
During a heavy air raid several houses were destroyed. The debris caught fire and blazed fiercely. Fireman Davies' house was severely damaged and he was badly shaken. Immediately he had recovered he went to a wrecked house in which two persons and a child were trapped under a bed. Having located the casualties, he burrowed
into the debris with his bare hands. He succeeded in reaching the bed and, finding the baby, he passed it out to the Wardens. He then tried to release the other victims. This he could not do unaided and Warden Musgrave volunteered to help him. Davies then levered up the debris with his body whilst Musgrave crawled under the bed
and allowed himself to be pulled out with the woman on his back. Still taking the weight of the debris, Davies, after fifteen minutes, succeeded in releasing the remaining trapped person, who was then drawn to safety.
Davies was in a state of collapse and had to receive first aid treatment but, when it was reported that another child was trapped, he again crawled under the wreckage and continued working for the rest of the night. His heroic action saved many lives.
An interesting letter appeared on eBay concerning Post Warden stripes. Sent to a Fire Station in Pinner, the letter (dated June 1943) outlines the badges received are the printed variety and not the material (I assume embroidered) type (that were hoped for it appears). The letter from H.U.D.C (Harrow Unitary District Council) details that existing badges will need to be returned when these are issued. Clearly the person receiving the badges wasn't overly enamoured with the printed badges and simply filed the letter. Slightly curious is the whilst the letter is dated 2 June 1943, the letter's date stamp is 25 May 1943.
A London Post Warden (denoted by the three chevrons and six-pointed star on his sleeve) exchanges information with a member of the British Red Cross. The warden is also qualified as an Incident Officer. (Copyright BRCS IN2646)
A certificate issued by the London Passenger Transport Board (London Underground etc) in November 1938. This is quite an early date and shows that Mr Mills was keen to get his ARP training completed.
With the Civil Defence services being stood down in May 1945, a large number of groups had 'stand down' group photographs taken. These provide a wealth of information on the insignia in use at the close of hostilities. The below photo shows a number of men that appear to be all in junior supervisory roles. The gentleman far left has the star above the three rank chevrons and five war service chevrons. There are a smattering of first aid badges on the right breast pockets but I cannot discern the area marking title (it looks to be quite short in length). As usual not everyone had a lanyard. A good number here are veterans of the first world war.
A very good photo showing five ladies wearing the Gabardine Coat ARP Pattern 81 coat with red piped collars and the special CD badge made specifically for this coat. Appears they have also applied a St John Ambulance Association first aid training badge to their coats.
An interesting document I had not come across before. This "Orders To Parties" form from the Lambeth Civil Defence area in London covers a lot of information about an incident.
I've tried to decipher the abbreviations but one or two are not obvious:
SP - Stretcher Party (term used in London for First Aid Party)
CDP - not sure on this one - something Party
AMB - Ambulance
REP - Repair Squads (gas, water, electricity, sewage, telephone etc)
MU - Mobile Unit
R - Rescue
MC - ?
DCP - Decontamination Party
A group shot of civil defence rescue personnel from Brynmawr (then in Breconshire). Of interest is that it appears that all the members have ARP red-on-dark blue breast pocket badges and then the old gold area marking below. This mix is known but quite rare to see.
A fascinating set of five photographs of ARP wardens in their ARP Post. Going by the map shown the location is Skegness. The area marking of Lindsey is seen which is the traditional division of Lincolnshire covering the northern part of the county (and includes Skegness). Probably taken pre-1941 as only bluette overalls are shown. Photos courtesy of Geoff Caulton.
A photograph taken outside of Buckingham Palace of Mr Saines and his wife. The ARP warden from Lewes was receiving the British Empire Medal (BEM). Photo dated as 1943. Interesting to see the embroidered beret badge.
One of the most frequently bought private purchase items was the side cap. Both men and women can be seen in period photos wearing the side cap. Most have applied their ARP badge to the front. This side cap is in dark blue almost black wool and is lined with the previous owner's name on a tag inside. To the front are two ARP buttons marked Cheney.
There exists a large number of photos detailing a Civil Defence exercise that took place in Fulham in 1941. The photos are part of a series called The Reconstruction of "An Incident". Many of the photos are available on the IWM website. However, I keep coming across photos relating to this exercise which I had not seen before. This photo shows an officer in the Control Centre updating the Damage board. Of interest is the CONTROL shoulder title on his bluette overalls. You don't often see shoulder titles on overalls, and seeing CONTROL ones is quite rare.
The National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee (NARPAC) was created just before the outbreak of the Second World War to provide information to the general public about animal protection during air raids – both for pets, farm and working animals. The committee had representatives from various animal charities such as the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and was organised and run through the Home Office’s Air Raid Precautions Department.
The Home Office wrote and issued pamphlets advising people how they should look after their animals during raids. One such leaflet was “ARP Handbook No. 12 – Air Raid Precautions for Animals.” NARPAC also published a pamphlet called “Advice to Animal Owners”. It advised pet owners to either move their pets to the country or have them destroyed. This rather drastic advice had the result of causing over 400,000 pets to be destroyed in just one week in September 1939. Thousands of other animals were also dumped on RSPCA and PDSA doorsteps.
Local NARPAC groups organised a register of animals within their area and registered pets were issued a numbered collar. Any animal lost during an air raid could then be hopefully reunited with their owner. Within the NARPAC structure were locally-based Animal Guards, volunteers mainly responsible for registering animals. They were managed by a Chief Guard with District Organisers above that. The Animal Service looked after farm and working animals via Animal Stewards. Qualified veterinary surgeons also worked for NARPAC.
Members of NARPAC were identified by the wearing of a lapel badge and armband. The NARPAC symbol was also used on helmets and vehicles.
In October 1939, the newly appointed Minister of Home Security, Herbert Morrison, requested that NARPAC create officially sanctioned measures to deal with animals under war conditions. NARPAC was now responsible for the care or destruction of animals in its charge. Vehicles bearing the NARPAC logo were allowed to run unhindered during air raids.
With the blitz on British cities starting in the autumn of 1940 another period of pet euthanasia occurred. Due to financial irregularities towards the end of 1940 NARPAC began to lose the support of some societies (such as Battersea Dogs Home), with the RSPCA completely withdrawing its support in July 1941. In January 1945 NARPAC was officially closed and its remaining assets were passed to the PDSA.
The BBC has a very good article concerning the pet cull.
The first person to be directly awarded the newly instituted George Cross was Civil Defence member Thomas Alderson. He was awarded the medal for leading the rescue of trapped civilians on three occasions in 1940. The other medal is the silver issue RSPCA Gallantry Medal. Of interest is the Instructor sleeve badge which also has ARPS above it. The ARPS was the Air Raid Precautions School and the badges just visible on his collar is probably the gold coloured ARPS Instructor badge.
A number of sets of slides for training purposes was created during the war. This set shows how to deal with an incendiary bomb using the scoop and sand container,
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.