I was most interested to see that members of the No. 1 Overseas Column - Civil Defence Reserve were allowed to wear the shoulder flash of the 21st Army Group. The No. 1 Overseas Column were sent to work in Antwerp in early January 1945 and also wore a special shoulder title. They came under the control of 21st Army Group and this file in the National Archives has a report on the issue of the badge.
The design of the badge - a blue cross on a red shield - was that of 21st Army Group but without the crossed crusader swords. It was worn by all ranks of 21st Army Group GHQ (General Headquarters) Troops, by Lines of Communication (L of C) formations and units not allotted to lower formations with their own badge.
In May 1941, King George VI approved the issue of a King’s Badge, awarded to “those invalided from the naval, military, and air forces and the merchant navy and fishing fleet, through wounds or disablement attributable to service since September 3, 1939”.
From December 1944, those invalided from the Home Guard, Police, fire brigades and the Civil Defence general services were also entitled to the award of the badge.
The badge, automatically issued to those who qualified by the Ministry of Pensions, was produced with a half-moon lapel fitting for men and a brooch fitting for women (brooch fittings are very scarce). Whilst its First World War equivalent was individually numbered, the King’s Badge was not.
The badge was designed by the renowned English artist and sculptor Percy Metcalfe. The badges were first produced in October 1941 and by the end of the year, over 8,000 had been issued. By March 1942, over 25,000 had been issued.
Badges were issued in a small white cardboard box, not much larger than the badge itself. A label on the top cover:
Ministry of Pensions
THE KING’S BADGE
Every precaution should be taken against loss,
thus preventing the Badge falling
into the hands of an unauthorized user
Later versions of the label included the line “It will NOT be replaced if Lost” which is often found crossed out.
A letter was also included from the Ministry of Pensions, with the later version reading as follows:
“The Ministry of Pensions is commanded by His Majesty the King to forward to you the King’s Badge for members of the Armed Forces, the Merchant Navy, the Home Guard and the Civil Defence Organisations who are disabled as a result of war service.”
Miniature versions of the King's Badge
Much like with the silver ARP badge, a number of manufacturers produced unofficial smaller versions of the King's Badge. Some have a blue enamel included on the outer edge.
Newspaper announcements regarding the King's Badge
From The Times, May 28 1941:
THE KING'S BADGE "FOR LOYAL SERVICE" ISSUE TO INVALIDED FROM THE FORCES
An announcement issued from 10, Downing Street last night states that the King has approved the institution of a badge for those invalided from the Naval, Military, and Air Forces, and the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet through wounds or war disablement attributable to service since September 3, 1939.
The King's Badge, as approved by his Majesty, consists of the Royal and Imperial Cypher, surmounted by a Crown and surrounded by a circular band bearing the inscription, "For Loyal Service." Mr. Percy Metcalfe has designed the badge, which is 1 inch in diameter and of white metal. It is fitted with a buttonhole attachment for men, and a brooch attachment for women.
Distribution will be carried out by the Ministry of Pensions, and the badge will be issued automatically to anyone entitled to receive it. No application will be necessary. It is expected that supplies will be ready in a few weeks.
From The Times, December 4, 1944:
EXTENSION OF KING'S BADGE AWARD TO HOME GUARD AND CIVIL DEFENCE
Members of the Home Guard, Police and Civil Defence services who have been discharged through injury from war service, will in future be entitled to the award for the King's Badge, a Downing Street message announced yesterday.
"The King's Badge," it said, "is awarded at present to those invalided from the armed forces and the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets through wounds or war disablement attributable to service since September 3, 1939. The extension of the issue of the badge to qualified persons who have been members of the Police, the National Fire Service, the Civil Defence general services and reserve, the Fire Guard, and ancillary organizations whose members are eligible for the award of chevrons for war service has now been approved by his Majesty. Issue will be restricted to those discharged from service who qualify for a pension under Personal Injuries (Civilians) scheme, or for similar compensation from another source.
"Members of the Home Guard now also become eligible for the King's Badge subject to entitlement tests similar to those in the other armed forces.
"Hitherto, officers and ratings of the Merchant Navy have been entitled to the King's Badge when awarded continuing pensions for 'war injury' or 'war risk injury.' In future, officers and ratings discharged from the Merchant Navy pool suffering disablement not falling into one or other of these categories, but nevertheless due to service and carrying workmen's compensation or similar payments, will be eligible for the badge. Members of the coastguard will also be eligible.
"Where a pension is in payment in respect of a qualifying injury, the issue of the badge will be carried out by the Ministry of Pensions or other authority administering the pension. Where pension has ceased, application by the person concerned to the authority by whom it was awarded will be necessary.
"Detailed information will be issued shortly to local authorities and other bodies concerned."
A very nice example of an area title for Chislehurst & Sidcup. A number of these Civil Defence area markings feature the blue backing with old gold lettering with a merrow edging (similar ones for Greenwich and other areas are known to exist). I'm not entirely sure of the method used to manufacture these, but it looks like the lettering was woven into the backing fabric (if you now the method used let me know).
This particular example sold for £70 plus shipping on eBay.
Not often seen in period photos are leather knee protectors that were issued to Civil Defence personnel, usually rescue but also first aiders. Worn strapped just below the knee, they protected the wearer when kneeling in rubble on rescue duties. I came across this pair, in black leather, made by Blackman in 1944 - given the crow's foot marking I assume they may also have been issued to the army.
This Fire Guard lapel badge with half-moon lapel fitting sold on eBay for £38 plus shipping. Although there are plenty of examples of private purchase enamel badges for ARP, CD, HG and others, finding Fire Guard examples is somewhat rare.
On the night of 2 December 1940, the Luftwaffe returned to bomb Bristol with a second major raid. The city had been bombed on 24 November and although there was heavy cloud cover, the city was again badly bombed.
Between 18.20 and 22.30 hrs, 121 German aircraft dropped over 120 tonnes of high explosive blast bombs, one tonne of flammenbombe (250kg incendiary oil bombs containing 30% petrol and 70% crude oil) and over 22,000 1kg incendiary bombs. To assist the German pilots 'X-Beams' were laid over the city plus the Knickebein transmitter at Dieppe also targeted Bristol.
The heavy cloud cover meant the Germans relied on dead reckoning navigation and the use of the Knickebein beam. One German pilot descended through the cloud to ascertain whether the target indicators were accurate.
The German attackers suffered no losses over the target; just a single aircraft was lost during take-off from their French airfield. The result of the bombing was more widespread than the attack on 24 November; 156 people were killed and a further 270 injured.
Over 340 individual incidents were logged by Bristol’s ARP service. However, although stretched they were able to manage the incidents without outside assistance. The pressure on the fire services though was extreme and Bristol’s fire brigades were overwhelmed. Additional men and equipment were called in from the surrounding counties and south Wales.
Civil Defence rescue parties attended over 60 incidents, saving 135 people and recovering 117 bodies. At 7 Dean Street (St. Paul’s) a high explosive bomb had collapsed several Georgian townhouses. In one was situated a Wardens’ Post where a number of wardens were killed. Most were buried together in Greenbank Cemetery.
DAVIES, Rowland Homfray (40) Air Raid Warden.
ETTY, Minnie Deborah (41) Air Raid Warden.
ETTY, Reginald Sydney George (45) Air Raid Warden.
FARRALL, John (66) Air Raid Warden.
HOGAN, Dennis (35) Air Raid Warden.
HOLMES, Sidney Charles (42) Air Raid Warden.
JANES, Ellen (62) Air Raid Warden.
JEFFERIES, Joseph William (70) Air Raid Warden.
MOORE, Gladys Mary (48) Air Raid Warden
PINNEY, William John (57) Air Raid Warden.
SAPSED, Albert (16) ARP Messenger.
SMITH, Herbert (47) Air Raid Warden.
STEPHENS, Ivor John (20) Air Raid Warden.
A number of items were manufactured during the war with either the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) or CD (Civil Defence) letters or motif on them. Items seen include cigarette cases and matchbox cases but also items like these cufflinks. I have come across a compact for ladies as well as scissors in a leather pouch.
If any one knows what the other hallmark relates to, I'd love to know.
Send me items to blog about via my contact page