An interesting 78 RPM record that has the two main siren noises - "Action Alert" and "Raiders Passed". The record was possibly used by factories to play over the Tannoy or may be a post-war record with sound effects for theatre plays etc.
These "Communications" shoulder titles were picked up by a friend at War & Peace Show. The printed manufacture is identical to those made during the war. However, there is no mention of this shoulder title in any of the files, bulletins or booklets I have seen. It could be a very late war edition and if you have any further information please do contact me.
An interesting parade photograph of Civil Defence members in Lenton, Nottinghamshire. Interesting to see that only a few have the area marking of 'NOTTINGHAM' under the CD breast badge - and it is unbordered. The officer has a yellow-piped side cap.
Images courtesy of Lenton Times.
This portrait shows Edith Essery from Hartleopol in her Civil Defence ambulance uniform. Either an ambulance attendant or driver her ARP Pattern 71 serge uniform has an unofficial local rank badge. Two (narrow) yellow bars in the usual rank insignia for an officer (lowest senior officer rank) but these are much thicker than usually seen. The cap badge does not seem to be the silver ARP badge but is probably a locally produced example featuring a large 'A'.
Images from Hartlepool History Then And Now.
Warden Taylor notes down an incident report in his wardens' post.
At the War & Peace Revival Show in Kent a few of us manned an ARP Post and helped tell the story of the wardens to many interested punters within the Home Front Village. An amazing amount of time and effort when into the displays. And by Jove was it hot...
Many boy scouts were used as ARP Messengers during the war. They were to carry the reports sent by wardens to the control centres. They had little protection about from a steel helmet. The armband ensured they were not delayed if stopped by police.
A lot of thought and effort went into creating the badges worn by Civil Defence Services in WW2. The initial colour of red badges was thought to be too closely aligned with the fire services and so the gold and blue badges were created when the new serge uniforms were issued in the autumn of 1941.
There were many discussions about prospective badges and the design below was for a metal ARP cal badge. Similar in many ways to the RAF badge this would have been affixed with two lugs and a split pin. However, due to reasons of economy and the fact that the new service was to be known as the Civil Defence Services this particular badge was created.
With the introduction of the serge battledress blouse and the women's tunic, the new CD breast badge was sewn onto the uniform before being issued. The badge was the 'old gold embroidered variety. As can be seen from the photo below, taken from a National Archives file, there were differences in how contractors manufactured the badge. To ensure the crown did look insipid, manufacturers were instructed to use black thread to pick out detail. These two examples show the differences in process.
Within a file at the National Archives is a large number of original ARP and Civil Defence badge samples. Also amongst these badges are a series of uniform portraits covering the serge uniforms for men and women as well as nursing uniforms. They provide an excellent reference material.
Getting the reports of wardens to the report centres was a crucial element of dealing with the Blitz. When the telephone lines were cut or down it was the messengers that hand-delivered the reports. With just a helmet and a bike they would put their lives on the line to get the reports through.
A very good condition, 1943-dated ARP Pattern 59a serge battledress in up for auction on eBay. The austerity (a) jacket featured exposed buttons that were quicker to manufacture. The blouse is a small size though.
An interesting piece of info in the Badges of Rank files at the National Archives is that there were four different manufacturing options considered for badges in October 1941: Embroidered, Calico Printed, Woven & Screen Printed.
All types were available at the same time. It was a decision to go with embroidered for the first batch but as more and more badges were needed the printed variety was ordered.
Each had merits and demerits - Embroidered looked better and could put up with wear and tear better; CPA (Calico Printers Association) was cheap but frayed. Woven was quick to produce. Screen Printed very fast production but faded.
Across Civil Defence Region 5 - which was the 28 metropolitan boroughs of London, most local authorities had area markings with their own name (e.g. Lewisham, Kingston, West Ham). The below photo shows the rarer "London" area marking. I'm unsure where this badge was issued, but possibly the outer boroughs may have issued the badge.
UPDATE: I have been informed that "LONDON" was an area marking used by the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS).
With the release of the serge uniforms in the autumn of 1941, most local authorities issued area marking badges with either the county, town or urban district on them. These were sewn below the CD badge on the right breast pocket.
The vast majority of these title were either oblong or curved to mirror the circular shape of the CD breast badge. There were sewn using the 'old gold' colour thread.The vast majority of the badges had a border but not every area did. Generally, the more common post-war Civil Defence Corps badges were the arched variety but without a border and in a more yellow thread.
As interesting two-page note about the necessity to continue production during air raids. Initially, as intruder aircraft flew towards their targets, sirens would sound and all production would cease as employees heeded to the shelters. This would cause immense loss of production. To tackle the issue, the Department for Home Security issued this pamphlet advising on measures to mitigate against always sending people to the shelters.
As the Civil Defence services developed in the early years of the war there was a need to build a coherent ranking structure. The below images detail how the various ranks were instituted and the how these ranks were to be denoted on the serge battledress and ladies uniforms released in the autumn of 1941.
This rare armband appeared on eBay. Although it looks similar to the generic Civil Defence armband it is probably a local authority made armband for any one of the various organisations assisting the civil defence service - such as rest centres etc.
A very good photo of a Stretcher Party. These men were responsible to extricating casualties out of bombed buildings and transporting them either to First Aid Posts or to ambulances for conveyance to the nearest hospital. Seeing as the members here are not wearing serge battledress the photograph was most likely taken pre-September 1941. The white helmets denote party leaders.
A group photograph of what appears to be a First Aid Post / Party (FAP). The men are in standard post-1941 serge battledress uniforms and the women are wearing the gabardine overcoat with special CD badge and red piping to the collars.
How much would you pay for original ARP buttons? I came across this seller at an event who clearly thinks that ARP buttons are very desirable indeed! I can still buy both sizes of buttons from between 20p up to £1. I recently bought several at 50p each (June 2018). Usually you have to go through a plastic box or tin but paying this much for buttons is way over the top.
This document from the National Archives details the cost of the basic uniform for both men and women in the civil defence services. The cost of £4 in 1943 is roughly £180 in 2018.
There were over a dozen officially sanctioned shoulder titles for various members of the civil defence forces. In addition to these there exists some senior rank shoulder titles; known examples include 'CHIEF WARDEN' and 'SENIOR WARDEN'.
This rare 'Fire Guard Street Captain' armband was up for auction on eBay and reached £139 plus P&P.
A most unusual and rare light box that was affixed to the outside of an ARP Report & Control Centre. The glass front could be opened and a paraffin lamp inserted to illuminate the sign.
The below circular details that when the bomb reconnaissance courses were being introduced by the Ministry of Home Security is was decided that only men could attend.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.