The Civil Defence services were stood down in early May 1945. As proof of service many members requested a certificate or letter to provr they aided the war effort. This letter/certificate from Louth in Lincolnshire is just such as item.
Interesting photo of a kitted out Gas Decontamination squad in Manchester whilst on an exercise. Clearly shows the amount of equipment involved and the personal protective kit required.
Messengers were of vital importance during air raid incidents. They would convey messages from Warden Posts to the Control Centres. Should the telephone lines have been cut it was their messages that would enable a quick response to happen. This photo shows a large group of boy scouts who acted as Messengers in Bexley, London.
I believe these are second world war period casualty tickets. The initial first responders would jot down the particulars of the treatment administered so that the follow up treatment knew what had already taken place.
Luftwaffe bombing was indiscriminate and the chances of survival of a direct ht were often very slim. This photo captures the moment that rescue parties pull Miss Betty Warboy from the rubble of a school she taught in October 1940.
The Ministry of Home Security made hundreds of short films to be shown in cinemas during the second world war. This is a short film about how to prepare a refuge room in a house.
This excellent condition Scottish area marking for Ayr County turned up at a car boot sale today - for £1. It's in the proper old gold colour and not the post war yellow.
Interesting document from the Ministry of Home Security regarding a 'purple' air raid warning.
Great photo from 20 January, 1940 when the Regional Commissioner for the South-Eastern Region addressed a large group of various Kent CD personnel at Chatham. Don't see many HQ helmets.
This little poem was used to teach wardens and other civil defence personnel about how to recognise certain gases by the smell they emitted. You certainly don't want to smell Lewisite...
I was recently in a charity shop and picked up "The Royal Family in Wartime". There were of a number of photos of the family visiting bomb damaged areas and the below is one such. It shows the King's wife (later Queen Mother) in Plymouth. The interesting part is the way the warden has attached his whistle to the chin strap of his helmet. A novel way of wearing it but you would think that it swaying about when not in use (most of the time) would be a right pain.
The Fire Guard service developed from the Fire Watchers that were volunteers (often forced volunteers if truth be told...) who spent long nights watching over industrial and commercial properties. They would deal with incendiary devices and call out the fire brigade if necessary. By 1944 the Fire Guards were well organised and had a variety of ranks. The below table for ARP Memorandum No. 17 dated 1944 shows the various markings that then existed within the service.
Here's an interesting ARP lapel badge that has been modified with an extra section. As the ARP lapel badges were generic it would seem that this Deputy Head Warden wanted to make sure people knew of his position when in mufti... This may be a unique item.
One of the commonest incendiary devices dropped by the Luftwaffe on Britain was the 1 kg incendiary bombs. These cylinders of magnesium alloy measured just over 13.5 inches (of which 4.75 inches was the tail section riveted to the body). It was 2 inches in diameter and filled with thermite. Incendiaries did not explode but upon impact a small percussion charge would ignite the thermite. The Civil Defence code-name was IB (Incendiary Bomb with alloy nose) and SNIB (Steel Nose Incendiary Bomb). Three varieties of this bomb were dropped - B1E, B1EZA and B1EZB - and dropped from a variety of containers. Te later variations had explosive charges to aid in spreading the burning thermite.
Incendiary devices could be dealt with by both the public and the Civil Defence services using a stirrup pump or a variety of devices that could 'scoop' up the device and allow its removal.
This is Jean Findlay, the only District Warden in London at this time early in the second war. Her area was Ilford in Essex and she was responsible for over 800 other wardens. This is early in the war going by the bar and diamond insignia on her ARP drivers' coat.
A number of instructional wall posters were produced during the war. This particular one shows the make up of the typical civilian respirator (gas mask).
Interesting portrait of a certain HE White - a post warden in London throughout the war. The first world war veteran shows the three chevrons and star of a post warden in London. His beret features a leather band so it not the typical Civil Defence issue and may be a private purchase item.
Prevention of road accidents was important to the civil defence services. Drivers that went a year without an accident being their fault would receive a certificate like the one shown.
ARP Fire Extinguisher Bomb advert. How useful these would be I don't know...
An interesting leaflet delivered early in the war to provide some information about how to prepare and then what to do in the event of an air raid.
A rare beret badge for Bethnal Green's Civil Defence forces popped up on eBay. This enamel badge was fitted to the beret with a cotter pin through two lugs. A most rare item.
Interesting portrait of a civil defence worker all wrapped up in anti-gas oilskins, gloves, respirator and helmet. They are carrying the Redhill scoop for dealing with incendiary devices and a torch.
With the introduction of the new battledress and serge uniforms in 1942, the colour of the thread for insignia was detailed as British Colour Council Shade No. 6. The post war Civil Defence Corps insignia is more yellow and this is useful when determining if a badge is post-war or not.
I visited the London Metropolitan Archives today and took a copy of "Air Raid Precautions Memorandum No. 17 - Civil Defence Uniforms". This 44 page booklet is a veritable mine of information about the pattern numbers, all the various uniforms including footwear as well as some photographs showing the correct location for where badges should be applied. It is an excellent resource. If you would like a digital copy for a small fee of £2 please contact me.
This often reproduced list of London's Civil Defence helmet markings first appeared on page 1276 of Volume 4 of The Second Great War by Sir John Hammerton and Sir Charles Gwynn, The nine volume history appeared shortly after the war (1947). It shows the wide range of helmet markings but there were no doubt many, many more.
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