This interesting photo shows wardens belonging to the Maidenhead area. Going by the number of war service chevrons the photo is probably a stand down photo following the dissolution of the Civil Defence services in May 1945. Of interest is a triangular badge on the left sleeves of a number of wardens. It is unknown at this time what this badge represents. At the back is a single lady warden wearing a private purchase side cap.
Photo is currently available on eBay.
With the end of hostilities in Europe in Mat 1945 the Civil Defence Services were stood down. A large number of stand down photos were taken as mementos for those that served. This photo shows a large group belonging to a Rescue Squad from Essex.
Currently up for auction on saleroom.com are these figures of an ARP Gas Detection Squad. Produced in the late 1930s it is one of a series of ARP studies sold by William Britain. The box is a replica.
A group of wardens photographed relaxing off duty. Given that the wardens are all wearing bluette overalls and none are wearing battledress the photo is probably pre-summer 1941.
Photo from Harringay Online Community.
George Rodger (19 March 1908 – 24 July 1995) was a British photojournalist noted for his work wartime photos of the blizes on Coventry and London as well as other home front studies. He later entered Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with the British Army and documented what he found there. A selection of his home front photos can be found on a site dedicated to his photos.
Photo copyright George Rodger
An ambulance party leader (white helmet) stands to attention before the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace. I doubt the Rolls Royce behind him is his...
This 12.5" off-white stoneware ARP food container, made by Doulton, cropped up on an auction site. There was also a jug with 'ARP Drinking Water' written on it . Usually a marketing ploy during the war, this would have been a standard jars and jugs but with the addition of the lettering.
An interesting photo showing members of a food decontamination squad 'cleaning' a large joint of meat of the residue from a gas attack. The photo details say the centre, located on the outskirts of Hornsey, was Britain's first dedicated decontamination centre. Not sure I'd be too happy tucking into that...
Only recently released, this new book - Helmets of the Home Front - covers an area of Civil Defence and the Home Front in a detail never before seen. It covers all the non-military British services operational during WW2. Over 300 colour pages and 1,000 different helmet markings are included. Likely to become the bible on collecting and information on helmets.
See this page for more information and how to purchase
A Ministry of Home Security recruitment poster (off-set lithograph) calling for volunteers to join the Fire Watchers service. In September 1940, a Fire Watchers Order compelling factories and commercial buildings above a certain size were to create and maintain their own fire watchers. Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary, made appeals for a "Citizens Army" of fire watchers to assist the local fire brigades with dealing with incendiary devices. The 'fire-bomb fighters' was mentioned in a speech given by Morrison (and shown below):
"Until we are able to stop the night bomber, fire raids will continue to be one of the greatest menaces to our independence and freedom and we have all got to lend a hand to beat them... Let there be no hanging back, put all your courage, energy and skill into this vital task of war. Fall in the fire-bomb fighters!"
Later in the war, as the Fire Guard service featured on another poster emblazoned with "Britain Shall Not Burn".
With the launch of the V1 flying bomb campaign in June 1944, London and the south east once again came under regular air attack. Within the London Region, the Civil Defence Services employed handlers with dogs to search bomb sites for casualties. The photos below, courtesy of Jon Mills' collection, show the King and Queen inspecting some dog handlers. The insignia on their upper sleeves was a triangle (thought to be light blue by some) with an Alsatian dog's head in profile. It is thought the handlers also wore a special beret cap badge, again in the shape of a dog's head. If you have seen these badges or other photos of them please get in touch.
From January 1942, following a considerable amount of requests from local authorities, the Ministry of Home Security signed off on several badges for newly-qualified instructors. Three of these badges were the ARPS, LARP and LAGC - photos of these badges are on this page. Also mentioned is a CAGS for Civilian Anti-Gas School, though I have never seen a badge with these letters on it. A cloth version of badges was also looked into and samples created. However they were never issued.
This remarkable half-hour film was recently shared on the WW2 Civil Defence Re-enactors Facebook page. It's a fantastic film with emphasis on the Messenger Service but it's great for spotting all sorts of insignia and uniform items. Look out for the various ways the 'W' on helmets is painted, look out for Fire Guard armband and sleeve insignia, check out the helmet on the Home Guard, and look at the background posters. Well worth watching.
Watch "The Message Must Get through"
I manged to purchase a job lot of Civil Defence insignia on eBay and among the various items were two pairs of shoulder titles for a Fire Guard Sector Captain. I have previously seen the printed version of this rank but had not managed to get hold of the embroidered ones until now. The Sector Captain was the lowest uniformed rank within the Fire Guard service and wore a helmet with two half-inch black bands on it. In all photographs I have seen it has always been a Mk II helmet rather than a Zuckerman.
This unusual ARP badge with additional "Queens Canteen" popped up on eBay recently. I cannot seem to find any information about a 'Queens Canteen" (or Queen's Canteen) on the internet. A design of badge I've not come across this design before.
I initially had some doubts about this ARP Warden sign but I have been told it is a known design from the war.
A late war group photo (going by the war service chevrons) of members of Amersham's Civil Defence. Submitted by Micheal Hazell, whose grandfather, Edward Bryan, is standing second from the right.
An interesting group portrait probably from the end of the war in 1945. Civil Defence personnel including ARP nurses pose outside the Wesleyan Chapel in Chapmangate.
Image source: Pocklington History
A small group of wardens pose in anti-gas jackets and trousers.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.