I've been after a copy of Terence H. O'Brien's History of the Second World War - Civil Defence for several years. It was published in 1955 by the Stationery Office as the official history of Civil Defence in the UK and is a whopping 729 pages. The level of detail is remarkable. The planning for ARP from the 1920s and through the 1930s is particularly interesting. Every area of Civil Defence is covered and for those wanting the chapter and verse on the Civil Defence Reserve I've not read anything better.
My copy was a withdrawn edition from a library and was just £8 on eBay; a bit of a bargain for a book that is quite rare to lay your hands on these days. The first 180-odd pages are available to read on the Internet Archive website.
I have a section on the site where I post a few shots of WW2 Civil Defence re-enactors. The below was recently shared on a Facebook group and I did a little aging in Photoshop (noise, dust, scratches etc) and added a vintage style frame. Warden Hodgson's impression is most impressive.
I am indebted to Michael Hodgson for sharing the below images. The Royal Life Saving Society ran courses to train people in artificial respiration. Many members of the Civil Defence Services qualified via these courses. Upon completion a specific 2" square badge (introduced in 1941) could be worn on the right breast pocket of battledress and Pattern 71 tunics . On civilian dress a plain metal badge was also available (at least one photo shows the coloured badge being worn by a warden very early in the war - possibly issued pre-war - see photo towards the bottom of this page).
A small certificate was also issued (see below). Below are the Respiration Service "RS" badge and certificate issued to Eugene Jennings. The issue number on the box is of interest as it allows for some understanding of other numbered examples being wartime dated. It looks like the owner hand painted parts of their badge in red.
An author is seeking any information regarding the bombing of an ARP Depot in Bexley. There are a few photos pertaining to the event but alas very little detailed information. If you have any information about this, please send me an email.
With the potential of a high number of fatalities caused by the enemy bombing of cities, local authorities implemented schemes to handle the bodies. Volunteers were sought from local undertakers and those employed at mortuaries and cemeteries to collect bodies and transport them to makeshift mortuaries. Initial estimates of fatalities were in the hundreds per day.
Volunteers drove hearses (more often adapted vehicles for the purpose) with CWD written on them. Volunteers wore the same CWD letters on helmets. The below is assumed to be a supervisor but black helmets with white lettering are also known to exist.
It was envisaged it would be a dangerous job, out and about after raids, with unexploded ordnance and fires hampering roads etc. The role of the Civilian War Deaths groups isn't that well documented but it appears that all local authorities had schemes to deal with the envisioned high number of fatalities caused by enemy bombing.
Thankfully, we haven't seen too many of the fake ARP badges on the tat bazaar lately. However, this London Transport Underground Public Shelter badge recently cropped up. It was last seen stuck onto a Zuckerman by a well-known shyster of military fakes. The seller perhaps doesn't know the background to these ARP fakes.
Have to admit I'm a bit on the fence with this badge. It was claimed to be a WW2-vintage Fire Guard badge for Keighley on eBay. Measurements were 6.8 cm x 4.5 cm. It certainly generated a lot of interest and late bids took its hammer price to £91 (plus shipping).
It does have the look of a WW2 badge but a couple of items had me a little confused. Firstly, the use of a red thread is very peculiar on the backing. It seems odd (and a waste) to use such as colour on a bobbin thread. Hessian can be used as a backing but this is a tad coarse for the purpose. From the measurements given I assume it was intended for placement on the battledress pocket like the CD badge.
It may well be genuine and needs further research, and if the real deal it's a very rare survivor. Clearly a couple of bidders were in no doubt about the badge's veracity.
These images were sent in of a hand-cracked air raid siren made by Leach. I believe these were the type issued pre-war. A very similar one appears on a pre-war exercise photo (see bottom of this page). Although Carter sirens are often mentioned as being made during the war, little evidence currently backs this up.
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