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,
Warrant, appointment or ID cards for members of the Wardens' Service crop up fairly regularly online but cards for other Civil Defence services and quite scarce. This very simply ID card details the owner belonging to a First Aid Party in the city.
This lovely sign recently cropped up on an auction site, It's a dark green enamel.
As the various posts for wardens and first aid parties were developed there was a need to mark these on maps. The below gives an outline of the symbols used for the Wardens' Service and Casualty Services.
A spate of reproduction AVRO ARP insignia has recently been placed on eBay. The seller uses several accounts to sell similar items (always a good clue to fake items being fobbed off). There's no known photos of any AVRO ARP badges except for the known metal and enamel badge. It appears these reproductions copy some elements of this badge but they do not follow the font exactly (another good clue to them being fake).
It's hard to imagine the feeling in the summer of 1940 but the possibility of a German invasion of the UK was taken incredibly seriously. Following the Dunkirk debacle the Ministry of Home Security released a number of posters and pamphlets providing advice. Many included information about moving into air raid shelters should the invasion arrive in your locality. Below is the text from one such pamphlet.
Issued by the Ministry of Information on behalf of the War Office and the Ministry of Home Security
STAY WHERE YOU ARE
If this island is invaded by sea or air everyone who is not under orders must stay where he or she is. This is not simply advice: it is an order from the Government, and you must obey it just as soldiers obey their orders. Your order is “Stay Put”, but remember that this does not apply until invasion comes.
Why must I stay put?
Because in France, Holland and Belgium, the Germans were helped by the people who took flight before them. Great crowds of refugees blocked all the roads. The soldiers who could have defended them could not get at the enemy. The enemy used the refugees as a human shield. These refugees were got out on to the roads by rumour and false orders. Do not be caught out in this way. Do not take any notice of any story telling what the enemy has done or where he is. Do not take orders except from the Military, the Police, the Home Guard (L.D.V.) and the A.R.P. authorities or wardens.
What will happen if I don’t stay put?
If you do not stay put you will stand a very good chance of being killed. The enemy may machine-gun you from the air in order to increase panic, or you may run into enemy forces which have landed behind you. An official German message was captured in Belgium which ran:
“Watch for civilian refugees on the roads. Harass them as much as possible.”
Our soldiers will be hurrying to drive back the invader and will not be able to stop and help you. On the contrary, they will have to turn you off the roads so that they can get at the enemy. You will not have reached safety and you will have done just what the enemy wanted you to do.
How shall I prepare to stay put?
Make ready your air-raid shelter; if you have no shelter prepare one. Advice can be obtained from your local Air Raid Warden or in “Your Home as an Air-raid Shelter”, the government booklet which tells you how to prepare a shelter in your house that will be strong enough to protect you against stray shots and falling metal. If you can have a trench ready in your garden or field, so much the better, especially if you live where there is likely to be danger from shell-fire.
How can I help?
You can help by setting a good example to others. Civilians who try to join the fight are more likely to get in the way than to help. The defeat of the enemy attack is the task of the armed forces which include the Home Guard, so if you wish to fight enrol in the Home Guard. If there is no vacancy for you at the moment register your name for enrolment and you will be called upon as soon as the Army is ready to employ you. For those who cannot join there are many ways in which the Military and Home Guard may need your help in their preparations. Find out what you can do to help in any local defence work that is going on, and be ready to turn your hand to anything if asked by the Military or Home Guard to do so.
If you are responsible for the safety of a factory or some other important building, get in touch with the nearest military authority. You will then be told how your defence should fit in with the military organisation and plans.
What shall I do if the Invader comes my way?
If fighting by organised forces is going on in your district and you have no special duties elsewhere go to your shelter and stay there till the battle is past. Do not attempt to join in the fight. Behave as if an ai-raid were going on. The enemy wills seldom turn aside to attack separate houses.
It’s easy to say. When the time comes it may be hard to do. But you have got to do it; and in doing it you will be fighting Britain’s battle as bravely as a soldier.
I am indebted to a contributor to this blog for sharing the image below. The warrant identification card certifies Mr E Haddon as a Gas Identification Officer (GIO) in the County of Derby. Like a lot of GIOs, Mr Hadden was a pharmacist in civilian life.
Members of a local NARPAC (National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee) rescue a cat from a bombed out building, 11 November 1940.
Image: Imperial War Museum
An interesting piece of paper ephemera from the West Riding of Yorkshire. This 1940 pass allowed the bearer access to the report centre in Keighley,
This "short but informative film" (a la Mr Cholmondley Warner...) from British Pathé showing a series of ARP recruitment posters. I was surprised to see one that was new to me (the hourglass one, shown below). Some posters were designed but not released nationally and I assume this was one of them. Although the film appears to be dated 1936 I believe it was in 1939 that these were released.
Watch the film here
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.