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.
A number of photos have cropped on eBay showing members of an ARP Wardens' Post larking about at their brick post. The lack of uniforms probably makes this an early or possibly pre-war photograph.
With the threat of war in the summer of 1939 building, a number of exercises were held to determine the effectiveness of the blackout. Trials like the one below were made across London to ascertain the effectiveness of the warden service to ensure the blackout regulations were followed. RAF aircraft flew over the 'blacked out' areas and reported that a lot of light was to be seen - especially when pub doors were regularly used.
An Irish Guardsman (two rows of four buttons on his tunic) patrols outside Marlborough House in London, the residence of the queen dowager, Mary of Teck (King George V's mother). Next to his sentry box in a Consol air raid shelter.
Currently up for auction on eBay is this 1943-dated battledress blouse. This austerity pattern with the exposed buttons isn't as rare as the seller believes but it appears to be in mint condition and to be in a reasonable size. My experience with the labels on most battledress is that they often different to the figures stated. I've got two with vastly different size labels that fir me perfectly...
This is a most rare helmet and armband issued to liaison staff working for the Civil Defence services. I've to fully ascertain the role of this liaison officer.
I believe this photo is prior to the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939. An interesting view of people habding out information about ARP and enrolment forms.
This portrait of civil defence personnel from Ipswich is probably one of the smartest groups i Iave come across. Everyone appears have to have their badges, lanyards and qualifications in the textbook locations. Nearly everyone is wearing their beret in the correct fashion (apart from Stanley three in from the top left...). A number are wearing war service chevrons, St John circular qualification badges on right breast pocket and there is a bomb reconnaissance badge right in the middle front. There appears a smattering of Home Guard that may have been attached to ARP duties in the area.
Civil Defence and ARP services could spend a number of hours dealing with an air raid incident. There was the need to dig out trapped people in bombed buildings but also the need to fix broken utilities. To ensure these personnel were fed and watered every local authority had mobile canteens that could attend an incident and dole out copious amounts of tea to the civil defence services. This canteen is from Colne in Lancashire.
A single page note from the Ministry of Home Security providing updated guidance and information about Fire Guard practice.
Possibly a very early war portrait going by the distinct lack of uniforms for the men. A few have the bluette overalls but most are in civvies. A couple of the ladies have the ambulance drivers' coat (which I believe was available before the bluette).
Volunteers on the WVS manned hundreds of mobile canteens during the war. This shot shows several WVS volunteers with their canteen.
This staged photo used for propaganda purposes shows an ambulance driver about to set off to an incident. It's a well known photo but of interest is the extra insignia flash below the Ambulance shoulder title. I believe this to be the red cross on a white field symbol for the City of London (symbol has a sword in the upper left quadrant but this image doesn't show this).
An interesting warden's appointment card that appears to have had a photo of the holder attached.
Given that ARP appears on all sorts of items, it appears infrequently on helmets. The below image is one of the few I have seen that clearly shows ARP on a helmet. The actaul wording to this (most likely staged) 1941 photo is:
"The good neighbour. Besides their function as the eyes and ears of the Control Centre in the field the wardens had another, equally important, that of the 'good neighbour' in the blitz, earning and keeping the people's confidence. In this role the work of the women wardens was outstanding. One warden in every six was a woman."
An interesting group portrait from Dartford. All the battledress jackets have the ARP breast badge which is somewhat unusual (local authorities were ti use any stock up before releasing the CD breast badge). The standard location for their yellow lanyards in on the right shoulder (though one has on the left!). Two gentlemen at the front appear to have their St John Ambulance badges on the lower right forearm (the usual place in the right breast pocket). Nice to see two ambulance drivers in their standard uniform. There is a smattering of double yellow chevron ranks badges. The last oddity is the gentleman in the front, second right. He has a side cap on (looks to have two small ARP chrome buttons to front but no other insignia and appears to have no piping) but also appears to have some form of shoulder board - most unusual indeed.
Photo courtesy of Steven Lewis (Fickr)
A Post Warden checks on the inhabitants of a London air raid shelter. He has applied his rank insignia onto his greatcoat.
Send me items to blog about via my contact page