Here is a very rare photograph showing the red diamond and bar sleeve rank insignia worn on a battledress. It must be right at the time they were being phased out in the Autumn of 1941 just before the yellow upper sleeve insignia was issued.
This District Warden Incident Officer (IO) is also wearing the light blue helmet cover and appears to have the London script style IO badge above the rank badges. I'm guessing the Messenger has one of the London Borough emblems on his helmet (possibly Finchley). A unique set of insignia.
Here is an interesting short film from British Pathé about identifying and staying away from German butterfly bombs. These antipersonnel bombs could have caused immense havoc but thankfully only a limited number were dropped. Ministry of Information public safety trailer about antipersonnel bombs (butterfly bombs)
This is an interesting article on The Gurdian recalling the impact of a raid on Grisby and Cleethorpes in 1943 when numerous butterfly bombs were dropped. Remembering the terror the Luftwaffe's butterfly bombs brought to the North
This 1937 memorandum outlines the early ideas behind the Air Raid Warden Service. An interesting read as much was to rapidly change in the early years of the war and especially once the Blitz started.
This group photo of wrens from King;s Lynn shows a myriad of ways to wear the black wool Civil Defence beret. Whereas the army and RAF had regulations concerning the wearing of headwear, within the Civil Defence Services it appears there was a great deal of lassitude.
A few ARP wardens and a Rescue Squad member (with unknown helmet marking of a diamond on the side) are shown early in this film.
Here's a nice shot of a group of wardens with a white helmet Post Warden displaying the three yellow chevrons and star above. Cannot quite make out what it says on the area marking, alas. I would assume that the badge on his right breast pocket is the St John Ambulance Association badge.
The small pamphlet was produced by Boots the Chemist in circa 1939. With the ever-growing threat of war again on the horizon a number of businesses started to prepare the population for the potential dropping of bombs - especially poison gas bombs.
The photograph below shows Admiral Evans inspecting a Light Rescue squad in Lewisham. Between the Admiral and the squad leader is a high ranking regional Civil Defence officer - most likely the Regional Commissioner. He is wearing a tailored battledress with red gorgets to the collars as well as the special breast badge worn by regional staff.
The rescue squad leader and several of his fellow men are wearing the austerity pattern battledress with exposed buttons (known as bachelor buttons these are revolving shank buttons held on by small circular clips). The area badge for Lewisham does not have a border and all of the men are wearing side caps.
With the Allies advancing further into Germany in the Spring of 1945 the war in Europe was rapidly coming to an end. The government now no longer saw any need for the Civil Defence General Services and on 17 April 1945 a memorandum by Herbert Morrison, Home Secretary and Minister for Home Security, was circulated that started the standing down of all CD services across the country.
All part-time members were to be released immediately from service and full-time members were given two months notice. The Ministry of Labour and National Service would then assist in finding these people employment.
On 2 May 1945 the powers of the Regional Commissioners were revoked. Throughout the country towns and cities held farewell parades for Civil Defence personnel. The final farewell parade, before His Majesty the King, took place at Hyde Park on 10 June 1945. Below is the speech he gave.
This is an absolutely amazing piece of film. The utter devastation and carnage of, I think, a V1 attack on Fitzrovia in London (you can see Colville Place sign at one point) in 1944. All sorts of rescue workers and Civil Defence involved and even American MPs at one point.
The WVS provided an immense amount of support during the second world war. In the back row of this photo are two WVS volunteers amongst Home Guard and regular army.
Although it's not the most focused photo you'll ever find, the photo below does shows a gentlemen wearing the CD (Civil Defence) blue enamel lapel badge being worn (under magnification it is a CD and not HG badge). No date on the back of photo alas but it is likely to be wartime and the style of jacket lapels fits. Examples of this badge being worn are quite rare. The photograph was obtained from eBay for the princely sum of 50p...
The carrying and storage of personal gas masks (respirators) became any everyday occurrence for everyone in the early part of the war. The early cardboard carry boxes soon fell apart and a number of manufacturers produced a variety of boxes and bags. The below is a container for the home.
Note: I have been informed that tins similar to the one pictured were produced by Elkes and originally came full of biscuits.
I came across this rare SFP badge today - it is a design I had not seen before. The SFP stand for either for Supplementary Fire Party or Street Fire Party.
From the council archives this photo shows a number of CD personnel during a civic parade. The interesting points are that one fellow (third from right) appears to have used a CD breast badge as a beret badge. Leicester also had different colour triangles for each city in the county on the upper arm.
Very interesting photo showing a group of wardens to which has been attached an element of the the Home Guard. Interesting to see the helmets laid out in front instead of on the lap.
One of the problems with picking out insignia of the war time Civil Defence Service is that the post-war Civil Defence Corps (CDC) had some very similar badges. The key issue is determining the age of a badge is the colour. WW2-period badges are embroidered with 'old gold' whilst the CDC is a rich yellow. The below photo is a good example of the difference.
A large number of badges were produced during the war that allowed people to show they were doing their bit when wearing civvies. Within some local authorities specific badges were made to convey a position within the ARP warden service. The below badge is a fine example for a City of Birmingham Divisional Warden. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of home front lapel badges from the war and they are avidly collected today. Prices can range from a few pounds to several hundred.
With the introduction of the serge battledress in September 1941, the vast majority of Civil Defence personnel were allocated a battledress blouse (for men) or jacket (or women) with an old gold CD breast badge (or ARP Pattern 75) already sewn on. Some preferred to retain their original red oval ARP badge and used this instead.
The Post Office was responsible for all CD badge designs and would send out pattern guides of the badge to manufacturers. However, slight variations in the design would then follow as the new badges were produced. The vast majority follow the standard 'old gold' colour at 2¾" in diameter but shape of letters and especially the King's crown do vary (see photos below). The backing of the badges also varies depending on the manufacturer. The vast majority of badges were embroidered but a printed version is known to have also been made after July 1943.
Whilst there are numerous enamel badges in existence, there were also many cheaper celluloid button pin badges produced earlier in the war. Many were given to personnel involved in manning large ARP shelters - such as Shelter Marshals and Key Men. Others appear to have been given to people to allow access to the shelter - they are numbered. There were badges for Fire Wardens and ARP Wardens.
Photos showing wardens that have donned gas masks and helmets are always a treat to find. This great photo shows wardens from a Cardiff ARP post posing for the camera.
For the control of Civil Defence services England, Scotland and Wales were split into various areas. Region 5 covered the 28 Metropolitan Boroughs (forming the London County Council) plus the City of London and the County Boroughs of Croydon, East and West Ham and a number of small urban rural districts in Essex, Kent, Middlesex and Kent.
Various local authorities were then combined into Groups - numbered 1 to 9 across the region. Groups 1 and 2 were later combined into just Group 1 in 1943. Within a single group each authority would have a control room and one of the authorities would also have a group control.
Make Do And Mend... When badges were not available there were options to create your own from existing stock. In the case below a standard ARP breast badge has been refashioned into just an 'R' for a rescue squad member. These are know to have been sewn onto berets.
Following an air raid incident a canteen would quickly arrive to offer tea and a bite to eat to those affected by the bombing and also to the Civil Defence services in attendance. Often these canteens were "manned" by members of the Women's Voluntary Services (WVS) as in the photo below. Also of interest in the child wearing a Plasfort helmet (on the left of the trio of youngsters) and a Messenger standing inline for a cuppa..
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