The National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee (NARPAC) was created just before the outbreak of the Second World War to provide information to the general public about animal protection during air raids – both for pets, farm and working animals. The committee had representatives from various animal charities such as the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and was organised and run through the Home Office’s Air Raid Precautions Department.
The Home Office wrote and issued pamphlets advising people how they should look after their animals during raids. One such leaflet was “ARP Handbook No. 12 – Air Raid Precautions for Animals.” NARPAC also published a pamphlet called “Advice to Animal Owners”. It advised pet owners to either move their pets to the country or have them destroyed. This rather drastic advice had the result of causing over 400,000 pets to be destroyed in just one week in September 1939. Thousands of other animals were also dumped on RSPCA and PDSA doorsteps.
Local NARPAC groups organised a register of animals within their area and registered pets were issued a numbered collar. Any animal lost during an air raid could then be hopefully reunited with their owner. Within the NARPAC structure were locally-based Animal Guards, volunteers mainly responsible for registering animals. They were managed by a Chief Guard with District Organisers above that. The Animal Service looked after farm and working animals via Animal Stewards. Qualified veterinary surgeons also worked for NARPAC.
Members of NARPAC were identified by the wearing of a lapel badge and armband. The NARPAC symbol was also used on helmets and vehicles.
In October 1939, the newly appointed Minister of Home Security, Herbert Morrison, requested that NARPAC create officially sanctioned measures to deal with animals under war conditions. NARPAC was now responsible for the care or destruction of animals in its charge. Vehicles bearing the NARPAC logo were allowed to run unhindered during air raids.
With the blitz on British cities starting in the autumn of 1940 another period of pet euthanasia occurred. Due to financial irregularities towards the end of 1940 NARPAC began to lose the support of some societies (such as Battersea Dogs Home), with the RSPCA completely withdrawing its support in July 1941. In January 1945 NARPAC was officially closed and its remaining assets were passed to the PDSA.
The BBC has a very good article concerning the pet cull.
The first person to be directly awarded the newly instituted George Cross was Civil Defence member Thomas Alderson. He was awarded the medal for leading the rescue of trapped civilians on three occasions in 1940. The other medal is the silver issue RSPCA Gallantry Medal. Of interest is the Instructor sleeve badge which also has ARPS above it. The ARPS was the Air Raid Precautions School and the badges just visible on his collar is probably the gold coloured ARPS Instructor badge.
A number of sets of slides for training purposes was created during the war. This set shows how to deal with an incendiary bomb using the scoop and sand container,
Warrant, appointment or ID cards for members of the Wardens' Service crop up fairly regularly online but cards for other Civil Defence services and quite scarce. This very simply ID card details the owner belonging to a First Aid Party in the city.
This lovely sign recently cropped up on an auction site, It's a dark green enamel.
As the various posts for wardens and first aid parties were developed there was a need to mark these on maps. The below gives an outline of the symbols used for the Wardens' Service and Casualty Services.
A spate of reproduction AVRO ARP insignia has recently been placed on eBay. The seller uses several accounts to sell similar items (always a good clue to fake items being fobbed off). There's no known photos of any AVRO ARP badges except for the known metal and enamel badge. It appears these reproductions copy some elements of this badge but they do not follow the font exactly (another good clue to them being fake).
It's hard to imagine the feeling in the summer of 1940 but the possibility of a German invasion of the UK was taken incredibly seriously. Following the Dunkirk debacle the Ministry of Home Security released a number of posters and pamphlets providing advice. Many included information about moving into air raid shelters should the invasion arrive in your locality. Below is the text from one such pamphlet.
Issued by the Ministry of Information on behalf of the War Office and the Ministry of Home Security
STAY WHERE YOU ARE
If this island is invaded by sea or air everyone who is not under orders must stay where he or she is. This is not simply advice: it is an order from the Government, and you must obey it just as soldiers obey their orders. Your order is “Stay Put”, but remember that this does not apply until invasion comes.
Why must I stay put?
Because in France, Holland and Belgium, the Germans were helped by the people who took flight before them. Great crowds of refugees blocked all the roads. The soldiers who could have defended them could not get at the enemy. The enemy used the refugees as a human shield. These refugees were got out on to the roads by rumour and false orders. Do not be caught out in this way. Do not take any notice of any story telling what the enemy has done or where he is. Do not take orders except from the Military, the Police, the Home Guard (L.D.V.) and the A.R.P. authorities or wardens.
What will happen if I don’t stay put?
If you do not stay put you will stand a very good chance of being killed. The enemy may machine-gun you from the air in order to increase panic, or you may run into enemy forces which have landed behind you. An official German message was captured in Belgium which ran:
“Watch for civilian refugees on the roads. Harass them as much as possible.”
Our soldiers will be hurrying to drive back the invader and will not be able to stop and help you. On the contrary, they will have to turn you off the roads so that they can get at the enemy. You will not have reached safety and you will have done just what the enemy wanted you to do.
How shall I prepare to stay put?
Make ready your air-raid shelter; if you have no shelter prepare one. Advice can be obtained from your local Air Raid Warden or in “Your Home as an Air-raid Shelter”, the government booklet which tells you how to prepare a shelter in your house that will be strong enough to protect you against stray shots and falling metal. If you can have a trench ready in your garden or field, so much the better, especially if you live where there is likely to be danger from shell-fire.
How can I help?
You can help by setting a good example to others. Civilians who try to join the fight are more likely to get in the way than to help. The defeat of the enemy attack is the task of the armed forces which include the Home Guard, so if you wish to fight enrol in the Home Guard. If there is no vacancy for you at the moment register your name for enrolment and you will be called upon as soon as the Army is ready to employ you. For those who cannot join there are many ways in which the Military and Home Guard may need your help in their preparations. Find out what you can do to help in any local defence work that is going on, and be ready to turn your hand to anything if asked by the Military or Home Guard to do so.
If you are responsible for the safety of a factory or some other important building, get in touch with the nearest military authority. You will then be told how your defence should fit in with the military organisation and plans.
What shall I do if the Invader comes my way?
If fighting by organised forces is going on in your district and you have no special duties elsewhere go to your shelter and stay there till the battle is past. Do not attempt to join in the fight. Behave as if an ai-raid were going on. The enemy wills seldom turn aside to attack separate houses.
It’s easy to say. When the time comes it may be hard to do. But you have got to do it; and in doing it you will be fighting Britain’s battle as bravely as a soldier.
I am indebted to a contributor to this blog for sharing the image below. The warrant identification card certifies Mr E Haddon as a Gas Identification Officer (GIO) in the County of Derby. Like a lot of GIOs, Mr Hadden was a pharmacist in civilian life.
Members of a local NARPAC (National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee) rescue a cat from a bombed out building, 11 November 1940.
Image: Imperial War Museum
An interesting piece of paper ephemera from the West Riding of Yorkshire. This 1940 pass allowed the bearer access to the report centre in Keighley,
This "short but informative film" (a la Mr Cholmondley Warner...) from British Pathé showing a series of ARP recruitment posters. I was surprised to see one that was new to me (the hourglass one, shown below). Some posters were designed but not released nationally and I assume this was one of them. Although the film appears to be dated 1936 I believe it was in 1939 that these were released.
Watch the film here
An interesting photograph showing the band of the Welsh Guards atop an air raid shelter. They are playing to an audience outside the Bank of England, London, during a ward bonds drive,
One of the series of posters used to recruit ARP personnel prior to the outbreak of war. This poster was designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer, an American who spent a large part of his career in the UK between the wars. A renowned poster designer, Kauffer may be best remembered for the 140 posters he designed for London Underground and London Transport. The posters span many styles: many show abstract influences, including futurism, cubism, and vorticism; others evoke impressionist influences. He returned to New York City in 1940 and died in 1954.
A large selection of ephemera relating to the ARP and Civil Defence has cropped up on eBay. Amongst the various booklets, cigarette cards and other items was this poster about "Cleansing Facilities for ARP Services". It shows the generic layout of a cleansing station as well as a reminder to personnel how to prepare for duty
A number of recruitment posters were published pre-war and during the war seeking people to join the Wardens' Service. Here's one of my favourite posters.
Finally, after reading through copious amounts of records I believe I have finally resolved one the long standing issues about the silver ARP badge. The C- and D-dated badges have a maker mark of "J.C." in a lozenge with snipped top corners.
Across the web and also on some silversmith websites this is incorrectly identified as Jacques Cartier (which is utter toshas their hallmark looks nothing like those on the ARP badge).
I recently got hold of a file from the National Archives which detailed that 'J.C.' was in fact a Royal Mint mark. I then emailed the Goldsmiths' library in London and they sent through the details of the mark being registered to a certain John Herbert McCutcheon Craig (first and last initial 'J.C.'). He was the Deputy Master and Comptroller of the Royal Mint from 1938.
On the silver ARP badges that were manufactured in 1936 and 1937 the hallmark is 'R.J.' which was for Sir Robert Arthur Johnson the former Deputy Master and Comptroller of the Royal Mint who died in January 1938.
An excellent portrait of an early-war Gas Identification Officer - GIO - designated by two black diamonds on a yellow helmet. One black diamond was for an assistant to the GIO. Three black diamonds were for Senior Gas Adviser. From 1942 helmets were standardized across the country:
Gas Adviser - Senior Gas Adviser
GIO - Gas Identification Officer
GI - Assistant to GIO
FOOD - Food Decontamination Officer
DC FOOD - Food Treatment Squad
Throughout 1938 and into 1939 the numbers of people joining the Wardens’ Service rose slowly. Following the outbreak of war there was another burst of people joining and a number of senior positions within the Wardens’ Service were paid a full-time salary. However, 90% of wardens were part-timers and one-in-six wardens were women. The vast majority were middle-aged or elderly.
As the Phoney War dragged on the number of volunteers dipped. With the call for recruitment into the Home Guard in the spring of 1940 many men resigned. By the time the Blitz started in the summer of 1940 full-time ARP personnel were being paid £3 and 5 shillings (£3 5s.) per week; women received £2, 3 shillings and 6 pence (£2 3s. 6d.) Part-time members would have their normal employment salary topped up with a few extra shillings per week. No overtime was paid. Full-time ARP personnel received 12 days’ annual holiday and three weeks sick pay.
London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS) driver and attendant with their Talbot ambulance in 1939. The LAAS was created to support the existing London Ambulance Service (LAS) dealing with the expected casualties of air raids on London. Whilst the LAS was organised by the London County Council (LCC), the LAAS was managed by individual ambulance stations.
Image Copyright: London Metropolitan Archive
This original Incident Officer (I.O.) sleeve badge cropped up on eBay recently. Is pretty good condition, the thread colour - Cambridge blue - is more easily identified on the rear of the badge here. Examples are getting somewhat scare and this example sold on eBay for £34.
To ensure that communications could still be maintained during a gas attack, telephone operators were issued with specially adapted gas masks. A microphone was fixed close to the filter and an integral headset was included that would be plugged into the normal telephone exchange board.
A most evocative photo of children done up as wardens and a nurse. A cracking photo.
A warden poses in his garden wearing the full gas protective suit. Issued to those involved in dealing with gas and chemical attacks the oilskin plus gas mask and Wellington boots were the only protection against the effects of the various gases. The gas rattle was used to inform the general population that a gas attack had occurred.
A lovely original mint condition pair of Joseph Lucas Ltd No. 68 A.R.P. Bicycle Lamps. Hooded at the front to reduce light exposure. Almost impossible to get batteries to fit these particular model but modern 3D printed inserts can be bought on eBay. These slide into the body and take AA batteries. More lamps and torches
News about interesting insignia, ARP related info and period photos that turn up.