Marlow's Auctioneers have a selection of ARP- and CD-related items in their sale on 7 April, 2021. Amongst the items is this battledress with Wimbledon area marking and five war service chevrons. It features the wings of the Royal Flying Corps. There are a number of photos showing former airmen wearing wings on bluette and battledress. Accompanying the battledress is a photo of the alleged owner but alas he is wearing a bluette overall and not the battledress.
The battledress has an estimate of £260 to £360. It is Lot 441.
A splendid uniform grouping belonging to Albert Edward Smith (called Eddie), a Head Warden and Incident Officer in New Tupton, Derbyshire. Head Warden rank chevrons to arms of battledress and overcoat, war service chevrons, IO badge. LARP instructor badge and a rare survivor, a blue Incident Officer helmet cover.
Images courtesy of Rob Whyman.
I am indebted to Rob Whyman for sharing this Incident Officer blue helmet cover. His grandfather, Albert Edward Smith (called Eddie), was a Head Warden and Incident Officer in New Tupton, Derbyshire. The helmet cover is made of three parts and does not require a string to hold it in place. These covers are quite scarce.
I'll share further photos of Eddie's uniform tomorrow.
In the 1939 Protection Against Gas & Air Raids - Pamphlet No. 3 Passive Air Defence (Provisional), reference is made to recognition surcoats (these are bibs of material that can be tied at the sides). With various personnel of the Civil Defence and Police wearing top to tail oilskins it would be impossible to differentiate between people and responsibilities. The coloured surcoats was an idea to alleviate this. It was not continued into the wartime period (but a similar use of coloured pennants at Incident Posts does seem to have been initially adopted before being dropped). Helmets were an easier way to differentiate people's roles at incidents.
Green - Rescue
Yellow - Decontamination
Green/White - Wardens' Service
and there were others.
Image courtesy and copyright of Chris Rock.
Passive Air Defence pamphlet courtesy of Adrian Blake.
A nice little pre-war grouping from Barnet. A certain Mr Skinner had passed the examination to be an Air Raid Warden in October 1938 and also received alongside his certificate a card "AIR RAID WARDEN" display sign for his window.
I often get contacted to identify certain badges and insignia and quite often it relates to the post-war Civil Defence Corps 1949-1968 - yes the Act of Parliament was passed in December of 1948 but the CDC didn't really exist until 1949.
I've created a page all about Civil Defence Corps insignia including rank badges, first aid badges, area markings, shoulder titles, enamel and embroidered instructor badges and proficiency stars, etc.
A guest blog by Bryan Jones - Scout Leader 16th Bermondsey Scout Group.
80 years ago, in 1941, Scouts from Bermondsey and Rotherhithe in South East London gathered at Manor Church for the presentation of Scout gallantry medals by the London Regional Commissioner, General Sir John Shea. Sadly, one Scout’s medal was to be awarded posthumously, received by his parents with their grief plain to see in the newsreel footage on YouTube.
But why were so many Scouts receiving awards in the midst of the World War Two London Blitz when children had either been evacuated to the countryside or took nightly cover in air raid shelters?
Today, it is not so well known that Scouts and Guides played a highly-active role in Civil Defence. The most dangerous work took them out into the open as the bombs fell around them putting out incendiary bomb fires, acting as stretcher bearers and riding through the destruction carrying emergency services' messages.
One Boy Scout who did this was 17-year-old Frank Davis. He lived close to the river, was part of the 11th Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Scout Group and worked for the Southern Railway at Bricklayers Arms Goods Station. At night Frank was an ARP messenger carrying messages between air raid posts and was based at Dockhead, close to Tower Bridge, where his father was the Warden in charge.
On the night of 8th December, 1940 there was yet another air raid. Frank and a fellow Scout were out when they came across an incendiary bomb. It was dangerous yet essential work to put smother the bomb with sand before the building caught fire. That meant getting up close and personal with a flame spewing monster.
That night Frank’s fellow Scout’s luck ran out and he was injured by the sparks. Frank carried his friend back to the Dockhead Warden’s post for treatment before returning to put out the incendiary bomb on his own. At some point, whilst doing this, explosive bombs fell close by killing Frank.
Having realised he was missing, the Wardens at the post set out to search for him. His lifeless body was possibly discovered by his father. Five days later, on 13th December, Frank was buried at Nunhead Cemetery in a grave that is today lost in undergrowth.
Frank was nominated for a Scout gallantry award; his Bronze Cross, nicknamed "The Scout’s VC", was announced on 5th February, 1941 with the medal being presented to his parents on 15th March, 1941.
Today, under non-pandemic circumstances, 16th Bermondsey Scout Group would still be meeting at Manor Church where the medal presentation was held. The church seen in the newsreel was lost to the bombing of London.
Read more about Frank Davis and the Scouts in World War Two
All images courtesy and copyright of the Scout Association Heritage Collection.
Introduced in early 1944 (the sealed pattern tag has 9 March 1944 on it) wound stripes were thin 1.5 inch gold on dark blue and issued to Civil Defence personnel injured in the course of their duties. The designated position (as per ARP Memo 17) was midway between the sleeve seams with the bottom of stripe four inches from the end of the sleeve.
The gold was for injuries sustained during WW2 (multiple awards could be made) and a single red was for any injury suffered during WW1.
This interesting Despatch Rider badge with possible CD connection was recently shared on a Facebook group. I have previously published a blog about despatch riders with one of the few photos showing a DR badge being worn. The badge used on that blog was to exemplify the general shape of the badge. The badge below is more inline with the colour scheme worn on WW2 civil defence battledress, i.e. old gold yellow.
All DR badges were unofficial and individuals purchased what they liked. There exist a huge number of variations of the colour of the thread used and backing material. It is possible the variations were to enable the badge to be marketed to as many units as possible. To date no original period list of styles exists.
A fantastic collection of medals and commendations to ARP Rescue Squad member Mr. Albert Dore. The collection for sale at Dix Noonan Webb on 11 March 2021 (est. £200-£240). Dore was in a group that rescued the inhabitants of a bombed house in Streatham, south London, on 11 January 1941.
Included are a Defence Medal, in original box of issue, two King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct plastic pin-backed badges in box of issue, two King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct silver laurel leaves in box of issue and the Albert Dore's ARP silver lapel badge.
An interesting helmet showing a large warden's W that appears to be made of a fabric material. Some owners used letters from armbands, even letters from newspapers but this larger W may have been a commercially available piece. The helmet has a clear 1938 date stamped on the rim
Initially titled as a single page wall sheet and later a double-sided broadsheet, The Midnight Watch included news relating to the Fire Guard and was "To be displayed in Fire Guard posts and wherever Fire Guards gather". Although there is a date of 1940 on the footer of this sheet, I believe it was issued after the formation of the Fire Guard in August 1941. It would appear it was initially published bi-monthly and later quarterly; issue No. 18 is dated October 1943 and issue No.19 is dated February 1944 for example.
Of note on this sheet is the Battle Honours section relating to Holborn ARP Warden Maurice Cohen Starr (George Medal recipient) and Warden Clifford Arthur Thomas Stratton and Fire Guard Walter Alfred Ricketts (both British Empire Medal recipients). The London Gazette snippet details their award. Ricketts was the first Fir Guard to be awarded a bravery medal.
Kilburn Heroes in the Blitz details the events behind the awards but sadly it omits Ricketts name:
Seventeen-year-old Clifford Stratton was an electrical engineer’s assistant who lived at 42 Buckley Road in Kilburn (later in the 1950s and 60s he is shown at No. 48). He had been a volunteer warden for six months.
On the night of Wednesday 16/17 April 1941, 685 German bombers attacked London. This was the largest attack since the Blitz began and some planes made two or even three sorties that night. A huge number of buildings were destroyed, and 1,720 Londoners were killed in what became known as 'The Wednesday'.
Clifford was part of a team of stretcher bearers who rescued a man and two girls trapped on the fourth floor in flats in Portpool Lane, off the Grays Inn Road Holborn. The building was on fire and more bombs were falling. Climbing to the top of their ladder they found it was too short, so they jumped onto a windowsill, and after tying the girls and the man to their backs, they were lowered to other wardens on the ladder. They were incredibly lucky, a few minutes after the rescue, part of the building collapsed.
The team leader, 30-year old Maurice Cohen, was awarded the George Cross, and Stratton was given the British Empire Medal (civilian). Clifford was a scout in the 15th Holborn troop, and he was also given a Silver Cross scout award. He had only recently returned to warden duty after an operation on his foot."
A very interesting and rarely seen portable air raid siren being used in Parliament Square prior to the Second World War. This was a photo in The Sphere, a British newspaper, published by London Illustrated Newspapers. The use of such a device was probably redundant due to the proliferation of electrically-powered sirens that local authorities were ordered to install.
The threat of invasion across the Channel remained a concern through the spring and summer of 1941. The below directive, sent though the Regional Commissioner for Civil Defence Eastern Area, details the requirements for vehicle owners to ensure they undertake measures to deny their motor vehicle to the enemy.
Quite a scarce photo showing the London area title on an ambulance driver/attendant's ARP 71 tunic. The London title was used by the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS) but it's not frequently seen. Also of note is the use of an Ambulance shoulder title on her side cap.
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