An interesting pair of qualification certificates for a husband and wife in the Bristol area. Both had undertaken the training prior to the war and the lady had completed hers in October 1938.
An interesting film from 1941 showing Winston Churchill (wittering on with a piss-poor speech it has to be said) and members of various Civil Defence groups - LAAS, Wardens, Stretcher Parties, WVS and firemen. A good reference piece for uniforms and I've grabbed a few of the better close up shots.
A mixed collection of shoulder titles has cropped up on an auction site. A number of the 'old gold' look of second world war vintage. The Pioneer, Welfare and Signals and anything that's very yellow are post war.
An interesting certificate for a Mrs Winifred Peachey from Brize Norton. She has successfully passed the Instructor course for Local Air Raid Precautions Training and could now impart that knowledge to others. You don't see many ladies wearing the LARP badge and the certificate has 'him' struck out and 'her' inserted in its place.
A nice studio portrait of an ARP Senior Warden (two yellow chevrons to sleeve) possibly from the Birmingham area. She is wearing the standard issue ARP Pattern 71 serge jacket but has a private purchase side cap with two ARP chrome buttons to front closure.
This image is captioned as Mrs Iris Cynthia (no surname) of Kennington in the Lambeth borough of London but I cannot find any further information at this time.. It's very interesting as it is shows for the first time the use of District Wardens rank insignia (two red bars and diamond) on what initially looks like an ambulance drivers' coat. However, the buckle is not correct for that coat. It could be a private purchase wrap-over style item to which she has added insignia to. She has a 'DW' - District Warden - helmet.
Here's wishing you and your families a very happy Christmas and the very best for the year ahead. And a special thank you to everyone that sent me an ARP-related photo or message during the year.
Civil Defence personnel stationed at first aid posts usually had 'FAP' on their helmets. This example (currently on eBay) has a variation with '1st Aid Post'. I've seen shoulder titles with this so having it on a helmet, although rare, is probably to be expected. The two inch black bar denotes a senior leader at the post.
From the same seller as the GWR ARP badge from a few days ago is this fake GWR ARP armband on eBay. Claimed to be original but in reality a fantasy item.
Update: It would now appear that this armband and similar ones for Southern Railways (SR) and London North Eastern Railways (LNER) are being regularly sold on eBay by the same seller (with different accounts) with a rather dubious history in fake items. The originality and provenance of this armbands is now considered to be highly suspect. Given the lack of originals and little or no photographic evidence of armbands like this ever being worn, the old adage of 'buyer beware' comes to mind.
A group of four ARP ambulance drivers wearing the standard issue drivers' coat and peaked cap. One is most certainly wearing the standard ATP silver badge but the others appear to have smaller cap badges, possibly smaller versions of the ARP badge.
This fake badge recently appeared on eBay. I've come across some documentary information on specific ARP teams attached to the various railway companies during the war but I have not seen any badges in period photos. There was a GWR ARP helmet that appeared sometime ago but the authenticity of it was questioned at the time as well. If you know more about ARP teams working for the railways please let me know, especially any photographic evidence.
Update: the seller of this badge and other items of militaria has a very dubious record in the authenticity of certain items. The majority consensus from collectors is that the provenance of insignia relating to ARP teams on railways is highly dubious. Buyer beware...
A most peculiar set of overalls that belonged to a volunteer with the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS). I've not seen overalls in this design before and the bespoke badge is most interesting in the way that it can be removed fro the overalls.
UPDATE: It would appear that the original seller of this item has a somewhat notorious record of producing fake items. Thought the original boiler suit is vintage the badge and name (seems that have a proclivity for stamping white lettering on post-war boiler suits) have to be taken with a pinch of salt...
Members of Lambeth's ARP Civil Defence stand in front of a car that's collecting for the war effort. The chap and young fellow on the left are in the bluette overalls and the chap on the right has the overcoat and beret.
I am indebted to Michael Newbold for the following photo of Kingston Upon Thames ARP first aid personnel taken at Bonner Hill School. The people present are probably all members of the St John Ambulance attached to ARP duties. You can see ARP window notices on the windscreens. There are a smattering of dark armbands present but I cannot clearly identify if these are St John variations (or even the dark green Red Cross ARP armbands). There are a few ARP lapel badges and I think one gentleman appears to be wearing the First World War Silver Wound Badge.
At air raid incidents and when reporting activity wardens would use ARP Form M1. When reports had been successfully sent through to the Report / Control Centres they would utilise ARP Form M2 (shown below). It was similar in many ways but should a number of M1s have been received about a similar incident it was the M2 that then took precedence.
Local authorities issued hundreds if leaflets and notices to educate people about staying safe after an air raid. The primary concern was to alleviate pressure on the health surfaces by ensuring people did not fall unnecessarily ill from something that could be easily avoided. This notice advises on how to purify water following an air raid.
A quite scare ARP rescue axe carrier has cropped up on eBay. Not often seen these were usually issued to Rescue Parties. A rescue worker carrying one on his hip can be seen in a photo on the rescue equipment page.
This fine study shows Robert Watson of Soham, Cambridgeshire. Possibly pre-war or very early war is shows how a warden would have been equipped prior to the issue of the first uniform (bluette overalls). He has the silver lapel badge, a Civil Defence yellow-on-dark-clue armband and a black helmet with white 'W'. He appears to have the simple cotton sack to hold his gas mask. Image courtesy of Keith Watson.
An interesting early war 'GW' marked warden's helmet. The use of a rank diamond is quite rare and usually means a date of pre-autumn 1941. Plain black versions with white GW have been seen in period photos.
An information leaflet to be kept with the gas mask. Includes details on the various sirens, rattles, whistles and hand bells used by wardens.
In London (and other cities) many people lived in properties that required shelters to be built to accommodate them. To ensure that the correct person gained access a ticketing system was introduced. This Shelter Ticket for the London Civil Defence Region is one such item.
Of all the biographies written by wardens during the war, a couple continue to stand out to this day. One such tome is Barbara Nixon's "Raiders Overhead". Nixon's account of the Blitz in London, first published in 1943, is a compelling read and history of the times and how the ARP and Civil Defence Service worked. Well worth getting hold of a copy if you can. For more recommendations, see the resources section.
A number of very interesting helmets appeared on thesaleroom.com recently. This helmet in black with standard white W to front and rear also has three chevrons added. Generally, three chevrons relates to a head warden and they usually wore a white helmet with single black bar. Regional variances once again it seems.
This interesting leaflet details the most widely offered ARP equipment available to the general public. The leaflet comes from the Lowestoft department store R. J. Pryce & Co on Suffolk Road (later Godfreys and now Kerrys). Reproduced by kind permission of the website Old Lowestoft.
A nice group portrait of ARP wardens taken before the issue of battledress in the autumn of 1941. Standard bluette overalls and helmets with slung gas masks. Alas it is not possible to discern the area marking on their uniforms.
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.