During raids the ability to ensure the right rescue services were dispatched came down to efficient communications. At the Report & Control Centres, trained telephonists took incoming calls and passed on important details of air raid incidents. Without their contribution, the ability to deal efficiently and quickly with a developing raid would not have happened. Their contribution is often overlooked. I am grateful to Roger at Home Front Collection for the images shown below.
Doing the rounds again is the Shelter Marshal Hammersmith armband. Previous incarnations of this particular armband saw it having been liberally sprinkled with tea in a poor attempt to age the armband. Now we have a pristine example with a number stamp added (in the hope that adds some level of provenance). The armband also appears with a red cross poorly sewn to the front as well (a well-known auction house in the West Country, known for being rather lax in apportioning provenance, has had this particular armband for sale a few times...). I believe these were originally sold as repros by Andrew Butler Insignia.
A number of owners of Civil Defence armbands had them embroidered during the war. Here we have another adaptation with a Head Warden badge added to an armband.
This OFFICER I/C ARP SERVICES armband OFFICER I/C CD SERVICES sleeve insignia is held at Chertsey Museum. I'd not seen either before. Also listed from the same donation are "Report And Control" shoulder titles for and the rank insignia of a thin bar over a wide.
The Lambeth Shelter Marshal armband sold on eBay on 14 June 2020 for the princely sum of £510 (thankfully the item came with free postage...). In total there were 25 bids from eight different bidders. There is certainly a growing market for British home front memorabilia but I do not recall an armband reaching anything like the amount this one did. The same seller had a Paddington ARP Messenger armband that sold for £285.
I am indebted to a visitor to this blog for sharing the following images. They include the Certificate of Enrolment, First Aid examination pass note and the B.R.C.S. (British Red Cross Society) ARP Reserve armband. The enrolment certificate is quite a scarce item to see.
More reproduction GWR ARP armbands are appearing on eBay that are being sold as WW2 originals. These were made for members of a vintage steam railway. They are good repductions but are not original. As ever, caveat emptor...
Doing the rounds once again are the fake Hammersmith Shelter Marshal armbands. These crop up from time to time and usually from the same dubious sellers on eBay. They've been poorly aged with the sprinkling of tea or some such. A complete and utter con so steer well clear.
The Girl Guides (and also the Brownies) were heavily involved in assisting with the war effort. From 1938 the group planned how it could assist in the event of war breaking out. During the war Girl Guides assisted at First Aid Posts and Rest Centres. helping evacuees and also as messengers at ARP posts. From December 1940 Girl Guides were able to wear the Civil Defence armband when engaged on voluntary support of the service or WVS.
I am indebted to Karen Wiles for the following images - learn more at Doing Their Bit.
A rare Deputy Divisional Warden armband from Edinburgh. Text appears to be a deep blue in colour on a white cotton background with a buckle fastening,
Image: Museum of Edinburgh
It's quite rare to see Fire Guard armbands being worn but this photo from Getty has a plethora of them. Not a great deal of information comes with the photo but it does show Zuckerman helmets and standard Mk. II helmets being worn,
A rather nice selection of WW2 and Civil Defence relayed armbands are coming up for sale via saleroom.com. There are some of the generic ones for Fire Watcher (F.W.), First Aid Post (F.A.P.) and ARP Warden varieties as well as a rarer National Savings armband. I believe the top middle is a decontamination (DC) armband for a business. A very nice grouping.
This interesting photograph appears to show a District Warden from Holborn in central London assisting a child with her 'Mickey Mouse' style gas mask. The most peculiar part of his uniform is the placement of the three bars of rank on the lower sleeve. I am assuming these are the yellow bars to denote a district (sometimes called divisional warden). They usually appear at the top of the sleeve. The warden's jacket is somewhat peculiar as well. I thought it was a standard issue battledress but this jacket has chrome buttons to cuff and epaulette - standard issue had revolving shank to epaulettes and a black plastic button to the cuff closure. The area title for Holborn is above the pocket (even above his first world war medal ribbon trio). I think the main badge is the ARP red on black breast badge but I cannot make it out for certain. He also does not have any shoulder titles. The helmet is a standard issue one for a district warden - a single black stripe. He is also wearing a Civil Defence armband which is against the usually prescribed use(they were to be worn over civilian clothes). All-in-all a most peculiar uniform.
This is a most rare helmet and armband issued to liaison staff working for the Civil Defence services. I've to fully ascertain the role of this liaison officer.
Another air raid item from Lindsey County Council in Lincolnshire. This armband is for the Air Raid Welfare that would help assist people bombed out of their homes. Lindsey County Council was quite prolific is getting all sorts of badges, armbands and insignia manufactured. Armband is currently on eBay.
A selection of quite scarce Civil Defence armbands are coming to auction on January 12 (in Holland unfortunately). Looks to be a number of Rest Centre variations. I've not seen the "Person In Charge" before. Ignore the yellow armband as that is post-war. Not sure about the blue and white check armband - possibly police/post war or, and this is a bit of a guess, Incident Officer related as they had a similar design on flags put up at air raid incidents
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.
This armband features the ARP letters with FIRST AID POINT, a slight variation on the often seen first aid post or party. The emblem in the centre is the county sign for Warwickshire and features a muzzled bear erect on its hind legs with a metal collar chained to a ragged post.
This rare armband cropped up on eBay recently and finally sold for £235. I've not seen this design before. Two red chevrons have been added to denote two full years' service in the housewives' section.
I had an interesting morning at Hackney Archives and there was plenty of Civil Defence and ARP related material to go through. The below armband belonged to a Stoke Newington councillor.
This armband recently cropped up on an auction site. Becoming quite scare these days this one was in very good condition.
Many boy scouts were used as ARP Messengers during the war. They were to carry the reports sent by wardens to the control centres. They had little protection about from a steel helmet. The armband ensured they were not delayed if stopped by police.
This rare armband appeared on eBay. Although it looks similar to the generic Civil Defence armband it is probably a local authority made armband for any one of the various organisations assisting the civil defence service - such as rest centres etc.
This rare 'Fire Guard Street Captain' armband was up for auction on eBay and reached £139 plus P&P.
Special ARP armbands for chaplains were created and can be seen worn by the Reverend Paul Clifford in London, 1940. His helmet probably has the letters "W.H.C.M" for 'West Ham Central Mission', which became a focal point of relief efforts during the Blitz of the end end of London.
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